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Mindanao group starts exporting organic banana variety to Japan in new scheme By Edwin Fernandez  Inquirer Mindanao   4:34 pm | Sunday, October 20th, 2013  

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines — After successfully exporting organic rice to Hong Kong and the Middle East, the Don Bosco Foundation for Sustainable Development (DBFSD) has started exporting banana to Japan after it launched its organic “Balangon” banana variety in Makilala, North Cotabato. Mayor Rudy Caoagdan of Makilala on Saturday said the launching and export of banana marked another milestone in Makilala’s sustainable development track and an important step towards improving the lives of locals. With the Balangon Processing Plant in Barangay (village) Batasan located at the foot of the country’s highest peak, the Mt. Apo, the town of Makilala, through the DBFSD, has started exporting banana to Japan and soon to other countries, Caoagdan said. To date, more than 3 metric tons of bananas have been exported. “This export breakthrough is under the people-to-people (or P2P) initiative, or a direct marketing arrangement without going through the transnational business interest,” he said, adding that Don Bosco started processing banana and exporting it since August through a partnership with another non-governmental organization in Japan. An Ilonggo term meaning “throw-away,” Balangon is dubbed as the “wild Cavendish.” To increase export, a marketing agreement was signed between Alter Trade Japan and Alter Trade Corporation, represented by Ryuta Kuroiwa and Raymundo Tenefrancia, respectively and Don Bosco and Balangon farmers representatives, and witnessed by the Department of Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Jerry Pacturan and other local officials. Don Bosco is also exporting organic “Black Rice” to Europe, Hong Kong and Macau. The NGO is a leading sustainable agriculture technology provider, and assist thousands of rice and upland farmers in the provinces of Cotabato, South Cotabato and Davao del Sur. There are 39,484 hills planted to Balangon banana, according to Caoagdan. Supporting the farmers, the Makilala local government supplied more than 20,000 tissue-cultured Balangon banana plant. With the success of the Balangon banana export, DAR is considering exploring this endeavor with the agrarian reform beneficiaries in Makilala and other towns in North Cotabato.

DA asks DTI to lower retail price of chicken By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 21, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  0 googleplus0  0  

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA )is asking the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to lower the suggested retail price of chicken in major trading centers to align it with current farmgate prices. “There is a huge supply of poultry and farmgate prices are falling, but retail is not so we will recommend to the DTI the lowering of retail prices,” said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. United Broilers Integrators Association (UBRA) president Gregorio San Diego said the average liveweight price of chicken has fallen to P78 per kilogram (kg) while dressed poultry is sold in markets at P130 per kg. He said chicken growers are incurring losses because production costs have risen to P70 per kilogram. Alcala said based on the latest field monitoring of DA, the farmgate price of a live chick has now fallen to P5 apiece from P20 apiece months ago. Chicken production in the first semester of the year rose year-on-year in terms of volume and value, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS). Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

Chicken production consisted of broiler meat, meat of native and improved breed of native chicken, meat of culled layers and breeders, and meat of culled game fowls. The volume of chicken production for the first semester of the year was placed at 758,680 metric tons (MT), up 5.05 percent from the output of 722,210 MT in the same period last year. Broilers accounted for 74.66 percent of the total chicken production for the period. The gross value of chicken production at current prices was placed at P63 billion, up 7.18 percent in the same period last year. In the first six months of the year, the country’s total chicken population was placed at 176.85 million birds, 4.05 percent higher than last year’s headcount of 196.97 million birds.

Agri trade deficit narrows in H1 By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 21, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  0 googleplus0  0  

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s agricultural trade deficit narrowed by 70 percent in the first semester of the year as exports grew faster than imports. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) data showed that agriculture trade deficit fell to $424.43 million from 1.43 billion in the same period last year. The highest deficit level was recorded in June at $199.7 million while the lowest was posted in April at $42.20 million. Revenues from agricultural exports rose to $3.23 billion, up by 30.68 percent from $2.47 billion in the same period last year. Earnings from farm exports comprised 12.62 percent in the country’s total exports for the period. The monthly export revenues for the six-month period went up year-on-year with the highest level recorded in May at $612.87 million. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

The country’s expenditure for agricultural imports slowed down by 6.27 percent to $3.65 billion in the first six months of the year from P3.90 billion in the same period last year. Monthly importations for the first semester of the year were lesser compared to last year with the lowest level recorded in April at $557.53 million. Agricultural trade with Japan and European Union improved with trade surpluses at $430.58 million and $319.73 million, respectively. Trade deficits were recorded with Australia, ASEAN, US and other countries. Earnings from the country’s top 10 farm exports grew by 30.84 percent to $2.24 billion from $1.71 billion. These are coconut oil, bananas, tuna, pineapples and pineapple products, manufactured tobacco, centrifugal sugar, seaweeds and carrageenan, copra oil/cake, desiccated coconut, and manufactured fertilizer. Coconut oil remains as the local agricultural sector’s top dollar earner despite a 0.28 percent drop in earnings, bringing in $538.31 million during the first six months of the year. Earnings from desiccated coconut also fell by 20.35 percent.

Increased earnings were posted for copra oil/cake, centrifugal sugar, bananas, tobacco, and tuna with growths in revenues ranging from 53.89 percent to 73.58 percent. Import expenditures for the country’s top 10 imports fell by 6.97 percent. These were wheat, soybean oil/cake meal, milk cream and products, manufactured fertilizer, bovine meat, coffee, rice, urea, manufactured tobacco, and tuna. The Department of Agriculture (DA) is working on opening up new markets for major farm and fisheries products to further narrow down the trade deficit. Aside from premium rice, the Philippines has begun to revive the exportation of spices such as ginger, garlic and onion, and tamarind to food processors.

PHL farm exports hit $3.23 billion in January-June Category: Agri-Commodities 20 Oct 2013 RECEIPTS from the shipments of the country’s agricultural products to other countries went up by 30.68 percent to $3.23 billion in January to June, according to the latest report released by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (Bas). The Bas, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), said the highest level of farm exports was recorded in May at $612.87 million. “The country’s expenditure for agricultural imports declined by 6.27 percent to $3.65 billion. Lowest level of monthly imports was recorded in April at $557.53 million,” the report read. The growth in farm exports and the slowdown of imports in the first semester, the Bas said, resulted to a 70.26-percent decrease in trade deficit at $424.43 million from $1.42 billion in 2012. The Bas said agricultural trade with Japan and the European posted significant increases. Growth in trade surpluses with Japan was 45.29 percent at $430.58 million, while that with the European Union was 148.39 percent at $319.73 million. “Decreases in agricultural-trade deficit were noted in Australia and Asean. Further growth in trade deficit was noted with the United States at 53.82 percent,” the report read. The Bas said total earnings from the top 10 exports grew by 30.84 percent to $2.24 billion in January to June. “While coconut oil recorded the lowest growth at 0.28 percent, it still generated the biggest export income at $538.31 million. Export income from copra oil/cake surged by 269.37 percent at $126.56 million,” the Bas said. The agency said centrifugal sugar, fresh banana, manufactured tobacco and tuna were among those with bigger growths in revenue ranging from 53.89 percent to 73.58 percent. “Dessicated coconut was the only commodity with reduced earnings at 20.35 percent,” the report read. Meanwhile, total expenditures for the top 10 imports fell by 6.97 percent. Wheat, the country’s biggest import shared 11.79 percent of the total import expenditure at $430.67 million. Except for soybean oil/cake meal and meat of bovine animals, expenses for all the top imports recorded decreases, the Bas said. The agency said agricultural exports accounted for 12.62 percent of the $25.58-billion export receipts recorded in the first semester.‐commodities/21158‐phl‐farm‐exports‐hit‐3‐ 23‐billion‐in‐january‐june 

P60 billion needed to hike local milk output–NDA Category: Agri-Commodities 20 Oct 2013 Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent TO minimize or eliminate milk imports altogether, an investment of P60 billion is required to significantly increase the number of local dairy animals capable of producing it, the National Dairy Administration (NDA) said. The NDA said the economic potential of local dairy industry is “huge,” and is capable of producing “inclusive businesses” or enterprises that can employ the greatest number of people. “The total replacement of imported liquid milk would entail 1 million heads of dairy animals,” NDA Administrator Grace J. Cenas said in an interview. At an average of P60,000 per head of a dairy animal, Cenas said P60 billion is needed to expand the local population of dairy animals such as cows and goats to 1 million. “About 60 percent of these animals should be giving milk, at any given time, to produce the needed volume of milk at today’s level of population,” Cenas said. The NDA official said imported dairy cow costs P140,000 per head. Imported cows are usually tapped to improve local breeds. “With the budget allocated for dairy-animal production, and the current inventory of dairy animals, it would take many years before we can really produce enough to reduce our dependence on imports,” Cenas said. To speed up the process of multiplying dairy animals, the agency has ventured into the artificial insemination of dairy animals. “The problem is the Philippines is not a milk-producing country, many of our farmers have this wait-and-see attitude. They want to find out first whether this agri-business venture will be profitable,” Censa said. She said the Department of Agriculture, through the NDA and other related attached agencies, are maintaining dairy-multiplier farms to encourage private investments and to allay farmers’ concerns over having an unsustainable dairy program. Dairy animals are bred in these multiplier farms, and are available for purchase by private sector, and for dispersion program for farmers groups and cooperatives. Cenas said about 40 percent of liquid-milk importation can now be supplied locally, but there are many milk products that also make use of fresh milk such as kesong puti and yoghurt. Figures from the NDA showed that the country’s purchase of milk and cream from abroad declined by 5.44 percent to 405,930 metric tons in the first quarter of the year.

BFAR eyes tuna fishing ban in Palawan Category: Agri-Commodities 20 Oct 2013 Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent TO improve the dwindling population of tuna, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said it is planning to issue a temporary ban on fishing in Palawan early next year. “In the past, regulation has been concentrated on small fish and the conservation of the larger species of commercially viable fish was neglected,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said during the recent celebration of the 50th anniversary of fish conservation. The BFAR, an attached agency of the Department of Agricutlure (DA), has been planning to declare a closed season for sardines and roundscad (galunggong) as a way to conserve these fish species and to ensure a steady supply of food for tuna. Alcala said, however, that consultations among DA agencies would have to be undertaken prior to the issuance of the ban. “The closed season is important both to conserve and ensure the steady supply of certain species of fish,” BFAR Regional Director Medardo L. Jamiro Jr. said. A senior aquaculturist, Jamiro said some 100 metric tons (MT) of skipjack, or white tuna (katsuwonus pelamis), and yellowfin tuna (thunnus albacares) are exported annually to the European Union (EU). “Skipjack and yellowfin are two of the most commercially important species caught in the wild and are always in demand abroad,” Jamiro said. To date, there are only six canning factories in the country which passed the strict regulation from the EU, which include 11 frozen fish establishments and four cold storage plant facilities, the BFAR said. The Philippines produces close to 400,000 MT of tuna and herring-like species every year, with the majority of the catch being canned and the remaining sold in wet markets.

Drilon: $208‐M Phl, SoKor deal to boost Iloilo’s food production By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 21, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  0 googleplus0  1  

MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Franklin Drilon smarted from criticisms for going with President Aquino on a state visit to South Korea last week. Drilon yesterday explained he was privy to the details of the signing of an economic agreement between the Philippines and South Korea for the $208-million Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project Stage II in his home province of Iloilo. The project was one of the highlights of the talks between the two countries during Aquino’s visit. It is envisioned to increase rice production and food security in Iloilo, stimulate agri-industrial activities, and spur the local economy and ecotourism industry. Drilon said the project that costs about P11.2 billion would be the first large-scale reservoir dam outside of Luzon, which would provide uninterrupted irrigation water supply to 32,000 hectares of farmland and benefit more than 783,000 farmers in Iloilo. The project provides the country with P8.95-billion official development assistance, which is a 30-year loan with 0.15 percent interest. The Philippine counterpart fund for the loan will be P2.2 billion.

DAR completes distribution of Luisita land certificates By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 20, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   1  7 googleplus0  0  

  MANILA, Philippines - The government has completed the distribution of land certificates to farmer-beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said yesterday. DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes said the last batch of Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) were handed to the beneficiaries in Barangay Mapalacsiao. “It is the last of the 10 barangays in the Luisita estate to receive their CLOAs in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling. This was done on schedule despite the damage caused by Typhoon Santi to the area,” Delos Reyes said. Some 663 of 745 farmer-beneficiaries received certified true copies of their CLOAs in simple ceremonies held at the village hall of Barangay Mapalacsiao. Data from DAR showed that a total of 5,718 CLOAs were distributed to farmer-beneficiaries, out of 6,189 copies of titles ready for distribution, or 92.39 percent of the CLOAs registered to date.

CLOAs of other beneficiaries are either being registered with the Registry of Deeds or are still not generated pending the signing by some farmers of the Application to Purchase and Farmers Undertaking . Nation ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

Delos Reyes said these figures would go up as beneficiaries who were not able to get their CLOAs during the scheduled distribution, have been proceeding to the DAR provincial office to get their certified true copies. He said following the distribution of certified true copies of CLOAs, the DAR is preparing to install the farmer-beneficiaries in their lots. “We will be installing them in their lots as we progress with the ‘monumenting,’” Delos Reyes said. The DAR chief said it is impossible to install farmers at his time as many of the lots are still planted with sugarcane. He gave assurance that this would be done when harvest starts this month so they would be able to clear the area where the “mohon” or markings will be placed. Delos Reyes assured the farmer-beneficiaries of DAR’s continuous support, noting that as early as now the agency is testing and determining soil samples to be used as reference in the customized interventions and menu of support services to be offered to them. The DAR started the distribution of CLOAs on Sept. 30 in Barangay Pando, which was followed later in the villages of Motrico, Lourdes, Parang, Mabilog, Bantug, Cutcut, Asturias, Balete, and Mapalacsiao.

P700M needed to reconstruct churches Category: Top News 20 Oct 2013 Written by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo / Special to the BusinessMirror THE cost of reconstructing seven heritage churches in Bohol, major cultural attractions in the province, has been estimated to reach at least P700 million. In an interview with the BUSINESSMIRROR, Fr. Ted Torralba, chairman of the Diocese of Tagbilaran’s Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, said, “The amount [for reconstruction] varies depending on need after the assessment. [But] the benchmark for each [church] would be around P100 million.” Malacañang on Friday assured that the government would fund the reconstruction of the heritage churches. Partially or totally damaged by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Cebu, Bohol and other areas in the Visayas on October 15 were the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon, Our Lady of the Assumption in Dauis, San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church in Dimiao, Santissima Trinidad (Most Holy Trinity) in Loay the Church of San Pedro in Loboc, the Church of Our Lady of Light in Loon and the Santa Cruz Parish Church in Maribojoc in Bohol. All seven heritage churches in Bohol were designated National Cultural Treasures or National Historical Landmarks by the government. The Heritage Task Force, a group of experts from the National Cultural Commission and the Arts (NCCA), National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the National Museum, has been surveying the churches in Bohol, including the Santo Niño Basilica and Cebu Cathedral in Cebu, to establish the severity of damage to the cultural heritage properties, identify those that immediately need to be secured, draw up priorities for restoration, estimate the amount of human and financial resources necessary, and establish important linkages with stakeholders. To receive donations solely for the reconstruction of the Bohol heritage churches, the Diocese of Tagbilaran has set up a separate savings account with Metrobank Tagbilaran branch in the name of “The Roman Catholic Bishop of Tagbilaran,” Account No. 123-3-123-51030-6. Torralba said the diocese is exploring the possibility of tapping private-sector funds such as those offered by San Miguel Corp. In a press statement on Thursday, San Miguel President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang said it would help fund the reconstruction of these centuries-old churches. “These churches are part of our heritage and carry significant historical value. We are open to do our part in supporting any efforts to rehabilitate these sites,” Ang added.

San Miguel had earlier donated P50 million for the renovation of the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, which was founded in 1571. The cathedral has been closed since 2012. In Cebu private companies, business leaders and civic organizations have banded together in a united earthquake relief effort called “BangonSugBohol.” A benefit concert, dubbed “We will rise again,” at the Ayala Terraces on Sunday kicked off the campaign to raise funds and other forms of assistance to help earthquake victims. Among the organizations who have joined the concerted relief drive are the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Retailers Association, Islands Group, Cebu Business Club, Ayala Center Cebu, Ng Khai Development Corp. and the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc., among others. In her regular briefing with Palace reporters on Friday, Palace Deputy Spokesman Abigail Valte said the government’s funding of the reconstruction of heritage churches was provided by “the law on heritage sites. Now you have to sift through [the damaged churches] which have been declared heritage sites and which were not.” President Aquino earlier said the government could not fund the reconstruction of the heritage churches due to the “separation of Church and State.” But the NCCA said the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, signed by former President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo, mandates that “all cultural properties declared as National Cultural Treasures and national historical landmarks shall be entitled to…priority government funding for protection, conservation and restoration….” Further, the Philippine Constitution itself provides: “All the country’s artistic and historic wealth constitutes the cultural treasure of the nation and shall be under the protection of the State which may regulate its disposition.” In the President’s defense, Valte said: “When the President was asked about it, hindi pa lumalabas iyong NCCA. And remember, it’s not for lack of understanding on the part of the President. We just wanted to make sure, in his usual way, na pwede. Hindi naman po iyon lack of advice or dahil mali ’yung sinabi, but it…. You know, that really just came first and the President wanted to make sure that government is able to do that. That’s why bumaba na rin iyong mga teams ng NCCA para masimulan po ’yung kanilang assessment.” She added that the Heritage Task Force had yet to report on its assessment of the damaged cultural heritage sites and had no “hard figures yet” on how much funds would be needed for their reconstruction. “They are working with [Tourism] Secretary Mon Jimenez on rehabilitation or reconstruction of heritage sites…. We did make that call out also for restoration experts to come forward and to help. Important at this point, also would be the documentation of the structures as they existed before to aid in the restoration. But no hard figures yet on what it would entail.”

Bohol is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country because of its white-sand beaches, the iconic Chocolate Hills, its heritage churches, the Loboc River cruise and tarsiers, known as the smallest primates in the world. From January to April 2013, visitor arrivals reached 143,388, according to data from the Department of Tourism-Region 7. A number of hotels and resorts have reported postponements or cancellations of bookings by guests.


2014 budget sans ‘pork’ to get house ok today Category: Top News 20 Oct 2013 Written by Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz THE House of Representatives is expected to pass on third and final reading the proposed P2.268-trillion 2014 national budget sans the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), popularly known as pork barrel, on Monday. House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., in a recent interview, said the General Appropriations bill (GAB), or House Bill 2630, will be forwarded to the Senate after it is approved at the lower chamber. “We will approve the GAA [General Appropriations Act],which includes the list of the hard [infrastructure] projects of the lawmakers but without the usual PDAF on the third and final reading on October 21,” he said. Earlier, lawmakers have agreed to remove the controversial PDAF from the 2014 budget and realign it to six government agencies, following the reported misuse of the pork barrel to bogus non-governmental organizations headed by Janet Lim-Napoles. The lawmakers, however, can still recommend projects to the six government agencies, which include the departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Health (DOH), Education (DepEd), and Labor and Employment (DOLE), as well as the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). “The book of the budget has been already printed, the amendments have already been inserted. We will pass it to the Senate, which is set to pass the budget in December,” Belmonte said. Once the upper chamber passes the GAB, a bicameral conference will be convened to reconcile differences in the House and Senate versions. Belmonte added that the 2014 GAA is crafted as a budget for inclusive development that “can serve as a powerful tool that will help sustain the positive momentum of growth and reform that is upon us and has been with us for the past three years.” House Committee on Appropriations Chairman and Rep. Isidro Ungab of Davao City said during the third and final reading, the lawmakers will give their votes individually. “October 21 is our target date for the third and final reading. The third reading is the final step in legislation in which individual votes will be taken and recorded,” Ungab said. He said the bigger chunk of the budget will go to the social services and economic services of the government.

He also said top agencies that will get bulk of the 2014 budget are the DepEd (P336.9 billion), the DPWH (P213.5 billion), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (P135.4 billion), the Department of National Defense (P123.1 billion), DOH (P87.1 billion), the Department of Agriculture (P80.7 billion), the DSWD (P79 billion), the Department of Transportation and Communications (P48.7 billion), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (P23.9 billion) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (P20.4 billion). Last month, majority of the House members approved on second reading the P2.268-trillion 2014 national budget without the PDAF of the lawmakers, but maintained the lump-sum appropriations of the Office of the President. But the minority bloc, headed by minority leader Ronaldo Zamora, and seven independent minority, headed by Nationalist People’s Coalition Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte, voted against the budget bill. They called for the abolition of all the lump-sum fund of President Aquino, estimated at P964 billion.‐news/21181‐2014‐budget‐sans‐pork‐to‐get‐ house‐ok‐today                           

Senate to move PDAF to Calamity Fund Category: Top News 20 Oct 2013 Written by Mia M. Gonzalez THE Senate will pass a resolution this week allowing the use of its remaining pork-barrel funds this year to augment the Calamity Fund. The  additional  funding  will  be  used  in  the  rehabilitation  of  earthquake‐devastated  areas  in  the  Visayas, primarily in Bohol and Cebu, Senate President Franklin Drilon said on Sunday. Drilon made the statement in a radio interview when asked about measures being mulled over in  the Senate to help victims of calamities in the country, particularly communities struck by the 7.2‐ magnitude earthquake last week. “Before we adjourn on Wednesday, we will pass that resolution,” the Senate President said. He said the move was discussed at the all‐senators’ caucus on Monday last week, where they  tackled passing a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate to allow whatever remained in  the  senators’  Priority  Development  Assistance  Fund  (PDAF)  for  this  year  to  be  used  in  the  Calamity Fund. Drilon said the Senate’s PDAF balance for 2013 can be used to augment the Calamity Fund even  with  the  temporary  restraining  order  (TRO)  imposed  by  the  Supreme  Court  on  the  use  of  the  PDAF, and with the question on the legality of the fund still pending before the High Court. “Even if, let’s say, the Supreme Court declares the PDAF as unconstitutional, in my opinion as a  lawyer,  the  [remaining  PDAF]  can  be  used  and  realigned  to  the  Calamity  Fund  because  the  realignment of savings is allowed under the Constitution,” he said. Drilon said this is because the PDAF would no longer be considered pork‐ barrel funds but savings,  which can be realigned. He  said  the  resolution  would  only  pertain  to  the  unreleased  Senate  pork‐  barrel  funds  for  this  year that are still with the Department of Budget and Management. Drilon said as far as he knew, “there is nothing wrong both in terms of law and in terms of policy”  on the Senate’s planned resolution. When asked, Drilon said government efforts to rehabilitate and reconstruct heritage churches  in Bohol and Cebu would not violate the principle of separation of Church and State, since the  assistance  would  be  anchored  on  the  preservation  of  historical  and  cultural  sites,  and  not  religious considerations.

“In  my  opinion,  public  funds  can  be  used  for  historical  sites.  What  is  not  allowed  is  for  government money to be spent on an ordinary chapel that has no historical value as proclaimed  by  the  United  Nations,  the  National  Commission  on  Culture  and  the  Arts  [NCCA].  You  are  spending not for religious purposes but for cultural and historical purposes,” he said. On the P25.4‐billion PDAF in the 2014 budget, Drilon said he will push for an amendment in the  proposed budget, deleting the Senate’s P4.8 billion share in the PDAF. “We will not realign it in other items in the budget but it [Senate PDAF] will be totally deleted in  the budget. This means that the National Expenditure Program will be reduced to the extent of  the  Senate’s  share  in  the  PDAF  by  P4.8  billion,”  Drilon  said,  adding  that  he  will  spearhead  this  initiative. Meanwhile, Malacañang said it is not afraid of a snowballing people’s initiative being pushed by  former   Chief  Justice  Reynato  Puno  to  gather  wide  public  support  that  would  pressure  government  officials to totally scrap the pork‐barrel system. “There is no reason to be apprehensive over that  because if it is a  citizens’ initiative, then  that  is  within  the  bounds  of  law  and  they  are  free  to  pursue  that  as  they  wish”  Palace  Deputy Spokesman Abigail Valte said on Sunday. Valte  insisted,  however,  that  the  lump‐sum  allocations  being  disbursed  by  the  Office  of  the  President  under  the  so‐called  special  purpose  fund  cannot  be  classified  as  a  presidential  pork  barrel like the PDAF. She asserted over state‐run Radyo ng Bayan that “there is no such thing as presidential pork.” “The special purpose funds that are under the lump sum, at least under the Executive branch,  have  specific  purposes  that  are  laid  down  by  law  and  are  subject  to  the  normal  auditing  processes like any other projects that there is in government,” Valte said. The Palace official noted that Puno’s proposal had galvanized efforts to garner support for  the  people’s  initiative  against  the  PDAF  “and,  of  course,  they  are  free  to  do  that.  In  any  democracy that is part of our Constitution, they are perfectly free to pursue any means or  measure that they feel would push their advocacies forward.” But  she  also  pointed  out  that  the  House  of  Representatives  is  set  to  pass  its  version  of  the  national  budget  for  2014,  where  the  annual  PDAF  allocations  were  deleted  and  the  amount,  estimated at P25 billion, have been parceled out to the different implementing agencies. “Since the budget for next year is a law and it’s currently being passed upon in both chambers of  Congress, then we are in the process of abolishing the PDAF, at least for 2014,” she added.

As for the 2013 PDAF allocations, she said the disbursements were suspended for the rest of  the year until the Supreme Court lifts a temporary restraining order barring fund releases. “So at least, looking forward, in the 2014 budget that is already in the process of abolition,” she  added, reiterating that “the Lower House has already passed their version of the budget without  the PDAF item.” She explained that the amount formerly belonging to PDAF has been parceled  out  to  different  departments  and  the  House  version  of  the  2014  national  budget  without  provisions for the abolished PDAF will now go to the Senate, which is expected to scrap it also. “As we have mentioned, President Aquino expressed the policy statement when he did declare  that they want the PDAF to be abolished, and that is currently in process,” she said.‐news/21179‐senate‐to‐move‐pdaf‐to‐calamity‐ fund                                 

Typhoon to graze Phl today By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 21, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 


MANILA, Philippines - The typhoon to be named Urduja (international name Francisco) will enter the Philippine area of responsibility today but will not directly affect any part of the country, the state weather bureau said yesterday. Robert Sawi, weather division chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said Urduja was expected to only graze the country’s northeastern coast. Sawi said the prevailing northeast monsoon - cold winds from China and Siberia - “is shielding” the country from the typhoon’s wrath. He said fair weather would prevail over most parts of the country in the next three to five days.‐graze‐phl‐today   

More funds sought for barangays By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 21, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - A Zambales congressman is proposing the allocation of more funds for barangay communities, which are the country’s smallest political units. Rep. Jeffrey Khonghun, a former three-term mayor of Subic town, made the proposal as the country gets ready to elect its new set of community officers. “Our barangay units play a crucial role in nation building because more often, they serve as the face of the government, thus the need for them to have sufficient funding to be able to perform their duties well,” he said. “Barangays are directly involved in the day to day lives and aspirations of the people, where governance and best practices can immediately be felt,” he said. He said he would introduce a bill that would increase funds for the smallest political units and allow them to keep those funds. “Every barangay’s function is not only to craft local laws, it also has the gigantic function of implementing plans and in mediating conflict,” he added. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

Under the Local Government Code, barangays are entitled to a share of up to 50 percent of its community tax collection. However, Khonghun lamented that in practice, the city or municipality would hand over the funds usually after a long waiting period and only when the barangay asks for it. “The current system where barangays have to beg for additional funds from the municipal or city leaders must stop. This will just be a cause of delays in the delivery of services,” he said. Under his proposal, barangay communities would be allowed to automatically keep their 50percent share of the community tax collected and remit the remaining 50 percent to the city or municipality after the end of every month. Aside from the community tax, villages have their share of national taxes collected from their areas.

The nation will elect next Monday its new set of barangay officers. No Sangguniang Kabataan officers would be voted as their election has been postponed to the latter part of next year until February 2015.‐funds‐sought‐barangays                                             

FDA warns public on use of candles   By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 21, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  5 googleplus0  0  

MANILA, Philippines - The public was cautioned yesterday on the use of candles for All Saints’ Day. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said candle manufacturers, importers and distributors will be required to secure a license from the agency as candles are considered as health products and categorized as household hazardous substances and articles. “The agency will focus on the safety of the wicks, wax and scents and colors used in them,” the FDA said. The FDA said only scented candles at present are registered with the agency so the public must first check before buying and using them. “Cotton and hemp wicks, as well as metal-free wicks, burn cleanly and safely,” the FDA said. “Candles made from beeswax are also considered safe.” The FDA said scented candles using essential oil are not known to have any negative health effects, and that the smoke or scents emitted are not known to trigger allergies in hypersensitive persons. “A well-made candle does not emit smoke when burning properly, but it is always good and safe to remember to burn candles in a well-ventilated area,” the FDA said. The FDA said the public must exercise safety precautions when burning candles, although they are safe products. Burning candles must never be left unattended, and that the user must keep them out of reach of pets and children, the FDA added. The FDA said candles should not be burned near articles that easily catch fire. They should not be burned all the way down to the bottom, the FDA added. The FDA said candles can be used as light at night, but that they must be put out before going to sleep. Burning candles flickering or emitting a lot of smoke must be replaced with a new one, the FDA added.‐warns‐public‐use‐candles 

EU’s assessment of Philippine maritime regime out in November, agency says Category: Economy 20 Oct 2013 Written by Recto Mercene BRUSSELS—The Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport has informed the Philippine Embassy here that the European Maritime Safety Agency (Emsa) draft report is expected by mid-November. The draft will be sent to the Philippine Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) for factual corrections and will be presented to the European Union (EU) member-states by early next year. The audit follows a video conference held between Marina and Emsa, where the two agencies discussed the remaining issues pertaining to the Philippines’s Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers compliance. Emsa is an EU agency charged with reducing the risk of maritime accidents, marine pollution from ships and the loss of human lives at sea by helping enforce the pertinent EU legislation. Marina has since submitted its factual corrections to the draft report of the Emsa’s April 2013 audit. It has also provided Emsa with its corrective action plan to ensure that the Maritime Educational and Training Institute complies with the STCW standards. The audit this October will be the third since 2010, when Emsa threatened to ban Filipino seafarers from EU-flagged ships after the Philippines failed to act on recommendations from a previous STCW audit in 2006. The threatened ban would potentially put 100,000 Filipino seafarers out of work and leave European-flagged owners with a serious crew shortage. However, the Embassy here corrected that impression, saying the ban would only apply to ranking Filipino officials of their respective vessels, whose number constitute only about 20 percent of over 100,000 seafarers. If the Philippines fails the audit, the licenses of these ship captains and officers would be “decertified,” meaning their licenses would be revoked. However, since their current licenses are effective until the end of the year, the decertification would not become immediately enforceable, Embassy sources said. On the other hand, an EU official said “the clock is ticking,” as the time approaching the ban is getting nearer. The official requested not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media on the subject. He said the blacklisting of Filipino seafarers from EU-flagged ships should have been implemented since last year, but its imposition was deferred following an appeal from the Philippine government.

Emsa, which assists the European Commission (EC) in monitoring maritime-safety compliance, has raised concerns regarding the quality of maritime schools in the Philippines. Two Philippine journalists were among the eight Asian journalists invited by the EU to learn how the EC deals with various functions like proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the union’s treaties and day-to-day running of the EU. The Philippines is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of seafarers. There are about 100,000 Filipino seamen onboard ships from the 28-member EU. In March 2010 the EU also banned all Philippine air carriers from flying into the European airspace, citing safety concerns, but lifted the ban this year, three years after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines had addressed various safety concerns.‐eu‐s‐assessment‐of‐ philippine‐maritime‐regime‐out‐in‐november‐agency‐says                               

DAR to start installation of farmer-beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita in the next few weeks Category: Economy 20 Oct 2013 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga THE Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is eyeing to start the installation of farmerbeneficiaries in their Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)-awarded land in Hacienda Luisita in the next few weeks. Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said the department will start putting up markers this month after the harvesting of sugarcanes in the former Cojuangco-Aquino sugar estate. “We will be installing them in their lots as we progress with the ‘monumenting,’” de los Reyes said in a statement. “The land in Luisita is now theirs [farmer-beneficiaries],” de los Reyes said. The DAR chief said farmer-beneficiaries have been properly assigned lots through the raffling of the lot allocation certificates. On Friday the last batch of farmers received their certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) in Barangay Mapalacsiao, Tarlac City. De los Reyes earlier rejected the idea of assigning farm lots to farmers who had started cultivating portions of the hacienda on their own since 2005. Dubbed as “Bungkalan,” the move was the farmer-beneficiaries’ expression of defiance to a Supreme Court injunction order to the DAR in distributing Hacienda Luisita after the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council canceled the stock distribution scheme that was implemented at the Hacienda Luisita since 1989. Farmer-beneficiaries in Barangay Mapacsiao were the last of 10 batches to receive their CLOAs, considered as proof of ownership for CARP-awarded lands. A total of 663 out of 745 farmer-beneficiaries received the CLOAs in Barangay Mapalacsiao. The distribution of the CLOAs partly fulfills the Supreme Court’s April 24, 2012 ruling favoring the immediate distribution of Hacienda Luisita lands. Data from the DAR show that a total of 5,718 CLOAs were distributed to farmer-beneficiaries out of the 6,189 copies that are ready for distribution, or 92.39 percent of the CLOAs registered with the Tarlac Registry of Deeds. CLOAs of other farmer-beneficiaries are still being generated and registered with the Registry of Deeds pending the signing of application to purchase and farmers’ undertaking (Apfu).

De los Reyes said those who were not able to receive their CLOAs during the scheduled distribution activities in the barangays during the past three weeks can claim their “proof of ownership” at the DAR provincial office. De los Reyes also assured the farmer-beneficiaries of the DAR’s continuing support. He said the DAR is engaged in testing and determining soil samples to be used as the definitive reference in the customized interventions and menu of support services to be offered to the farmer-beneficiaries, in recognition of the kinds of crops they may want to plant. The DAR began the distribution of CLOAs on September 30 in Barangay Pando. In the subsequent weeks, it distributed certified true copies of CLOAs in Barangays Motrico, Lourdes, Parang, Mabilog, Bantug, Cutcut, Asturias, Balete and Mapalacsiao. The farmers will be paying monthly amortization for the cumulative cost of P70,000 of the CARP-awarded land in the next 30 years. Each of the 6,212 farmer-beneficiaries got 6,600 square meter from the net distributable portion of 4,099 hectares. Meanwhile, Agrarian Reform Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said the agency is exerting all efforts to reach out to the few remaining farmers who have not yet signed the Apfu and received their CLOAs. He underscored the need for farmers to sign the Apfu to indicate the farmers’ willingness to abide by the terms and conditions of CARP. “Once again, it must be stressed that the execution of the Apfu is a mandatory legal requirement, which must be complied with to pave the way for the generation and registration of a beneficiary’s CLOA. It contains in plain and understandable language the beneficiary’s obligations as such under the law,” he said. Parungao said only 339 Apfus, or 5.45 percent of the total, remain unsigned. “This means that the overwhelming majority of beneficiaries (94.5 percent) do not find the Apfu objectionable, especially as they each only get to pay a maximum of around P61 a month for the first three years for their farm lot,” he said. Aside from the distributed land, the farmer-beneficiaries are expecting their share from the P1.33-billion proceeds of two land deals that carved out a total of 580 hectares from the original area of 4,916 hectares. These include the 500 hectares of land that are the subject of a land conversion order being questioned by farmer-beneficiaries and an 80-hectare portion used for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway project. The rest of the lands that were not distributed are considered “unproductive” or areas that cannot be cultivated, including residential areas, cemetery, fishponds, creeks and firebreaks.‐dar‐to‐start‐installation‐of‐ farmer‐beneficiaries‐in‐hacienda‐luisita‐in‐the‐next‐few‐weeks 

Transporting relief goods to quake victims is govt’s ‘greatest challenge’–NDRRMC Category: Regions 20 Oct 2013 Written by Rene Acosta BRINGING relief goods to the victims of the earthquake has remained the “greatest challenge” for the government nearly a week after the powerful tremor struck Bohol and the other provinces in the Visayas. This was the admission made by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Sunday as it belied claims that the government was running out of assistance for the victims and was leaving them in hunger. “A lot of non-governmental organizations are providing relief goods, but the way I have seen it in the last two days that I was there, relief goods are adequate. The problem is the distribution, sending the relief goods to the remote barangays,” NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario said. Del Rosario, who led the meeting of the agencies under the NDRRMC on Sunday, said the relief goods are just being stored in the center of the town like in Carmen, Bohol, because they could not be sent to the affected far-flung barangays because of the lack of manpower. “I gave instructions to the regional disaster operations center that if there are barangays which happens not to be receiving supplies and going hungry, we will tap the services of the Air Force to drop supplies to these barangays that are claiming they were not receiving relief goods,” he said. “If we are talking about the existence of supplies, I can say more than enough. A lot wanted to help and many were helping. The Department of Social Welfare and Development is extending assistance,” del Rosario added. NDRRMC Spokesman Rey Balido said that as of Sunday, a total of 185 people have died from the quake. Of the number, 172 were in Bohol, 12 in Cebu and one in Siquijor. A total of 583 people were also injured, 489 of them from Bohol. Balido said the tremor also affected a total number of 703,244 families or 3,542,281 in Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Negros Oriental, Iloilo and Guimaras.

Of the number, 22,816 families or 113,227 persons are currently housed in 93 evacuation centers, while 55,769 families or 257,268 persons are living outside evacuation centers. Del Rosario said another challenge for the government is to ensure or assist the families affected that they could soon rebuild their damaged housed. “Per account of the DSWD, the total number of totally damaged houses is 8,480, and in Bohol alone, it is 8,464 8,464, with 27,321 partially damaged. So we can just imagine the magnitude of the damage,” he said. The big number of population that has been left homeless was the reason tarpaulins and tents were among the necessities that the government listed for the quake victims. In terms of infrastructure, del Rosario said the DPWH already reported that it initially need P750 million in order to repair or build roads, bridges and buildings that were damaged. However, the amount may still increase as the assessment was only preliminary or initial.

In Photo: Residents queue up under the rain to receive relief supplies at quake-hit Sagbayan town in Bohol province on Thursday. A 7.2-magnitude quake hit Bohol and Cebu provinces on Tuesday, damaging buildings homes, churches and infrastructure and causing multiple deaths across the central region. (AP)‐transporting‐relief‐goods‐to‐ quake‐victims‐is‐govt‐s‐greatest‐challenge‐ndrrmc                   

DENR probing death of Phl eagle in Misamis By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 21, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  0 googleplus0  0  

  MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now investigating the death of a male Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) in Misamis Oriental last Oct. 11, barely two months after it was released back into the wild following a two-year rehabilitation. The DENR, through the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), is seeking the help of the public in determining who shot the eagle, which was found on Mt. Lumot in Gingoog City by members of the Davao-based Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF). The eagle, according to the PAWB, was identified as Minalwang, which the PEF released in the Mt. Balatukan Range Natural Park, also in Gingoog, only last Aug. 15, after being rehabilitated for two years following its rescue in Claveria, Misamis Oriental. The PEF was alerted on the eagle’s condition after the satellite transmitter attached to it to track its movements stopped sending feedback.

PAWB director Theresa Mundita Lim said the DENR community is “extremely saddened” by Minalwang’s death. “This is another blow for us, especially for our conservation program where we have been trying so hard to perpetuate the existence of our ‘haring ibon (bird king),’” Lim said. The Philippine eagle, once called by American aviator Charles Lindbergh as “the world’s noblest flier,” is considered as a critically endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. There are an estimated 500 pairs of Philippine eagles in the wild, and less than 50, including those bred in captivity or being rehabilitated, are in the custody of the PEF and DENR.                                

Iodine deficiency in kids alarming by Jonathan M. Hicap  October 21, 2013  

Manila, Philippines — Concerned about the continued existence of iodine deficiency among Filipino children, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered establishments engaged in salt manufacturing, importation, wholesale and repacking, and distribution to secure a license to operate to ensure that all salt supplies sold to the public are iodized. In a circular, the FDA said it is alarmed by the persistence of Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD) among Filipino children. “The persistence of IDD condition is alarming despite the implementation of Republic Act No. 8172, ‘An Act Promoting Salt Iodization Nationwide and for Related Purposes’ or commonly known as the ASIN Law.’” the FDA said. It cited the 2008 National Nutrition Survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) which revealed that “19.7 percent of Filipino children aged 6 to 12 years old still have median UIE (Urinary Iodine Excretion) level that is slightly below 20%, and this level, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), indicated a public health problem.” In the food consumption part of the survey, iodized salt placed 24th on the list of commonly consumed foods by Filipino households compared to coarse salt, which ranked fourth. Only 14.6 percent of households used iodized salt compared to 65 percent for coarse salt.‐deficiency‐in‐kids‐alarming/                     

Gov’t debt payments down 16% in 8 mos By Zinnia B. Dela Pena (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 21, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 


MANILA, Philippines - The government’s debt payments declined in the first eight months of the year from a year ago level as the Aquino administration continued to ramp up spending in a bid to secure more inclusive growth. Latest data from the Bureau of Treasury showed that the government serviced P425.085 billion in debts from January to August, down 15.67 percent from the P501.675 billion settled the previous year. Of the total, the government spent P196.21 billion for principal payments, 32 percent lower than than the P290.56 billion paid a year earlier. Of the amount, payments for domestic obligations amounted to P98.63 billion or 61 percent percent less than the P250.772 billion settled. Payments for foreign obligations, however, more than doubled to P97.58 billion from only P39.8 billion Total interest payment amounted to P228.875 billion during the period, 8.4 percent higher than last year’s level.

The government paid P151.94 billion for interest on domestic loans and P76.93 billion for interest on foreign obligations. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

During the eight-month period, the government’s total disbursements reached P1.22 trillion, up 13 percent from the same period a year ago. In August alone, the government spent P40.89 billion to pay down debt, down 38 percent from a year a. Debt servicing continues to decline as the government strives to lengthen the maturity of its financial obligations. The government is looking to prepay its 2014 borrowing requirements to capitalize on the record low interest rates and overflowing liquidity in the domestic financial market. As of end-August, the country’s budget deficit stood at P82.6 billion. The shortfall is expected to ease this year if the Supreme Court fails to lift an order stopping the release of the remaining P14.7 billion out of the P24.7 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) this year. A lower deficit is expected to translate to lower borrowing needs of the government, lower liabilities and huge interest payment savings. The government seeks sustain rapid growth by trimming the budget deficit as a proportion of the gross domestic product.‐debt‐payments‐down‐16‐8‐mos                     

Phl economy soars but no jobs created  (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 21, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  1 googleplus0  1  

  MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines will continue to see robust growth in 2013 and 2014 based on strong domestic consumption and an increase in investments, but this expansion has yet to generate new jobs or reduce poverty levels, according to an updated Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecast. The Philippine economy continues to show resilience to global market risks with a strong domestic demand, expansion in public and private investment, low inflation and interest rates, buoyant remittance flows, and higher business confidence, said Norio Usui, senior country economist at ADB, who spoke at an economic forum in Manila last week. “Economic growth has been accelerating since the first quarter of 2012,” agreed Celia Reyes, a senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies who also lectured at the same conference. The ADB’s revised Asian Development Outlook 2013 released earlier this month forecasts the country’s 2013 gross domestic product (GDP) growth at seven percent, up from six percent in its April estimates. For 2014, growth is now pegged at 6.1 percent, from the previous projection of 5.9 percent. Last year, growth reached 6.8 percent.

The ADB said the same growth drivers would continue to fuel economic activity in the short term, supported by the benign inflation and interest rate environment, ample liquidity, and a rise in government spending. But Usui and Reyes noted that this growth is not creating more jobs or improving living conditions for many Filipinos, with over a quarter of all workers still unemployed or underemployed. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

“Employment generation over the past two years has fallen short of the official goal of adding one million new jobs a year needed to absorb new entrants into the labor force and to put a dent in joblessness. Currently about three million people are unemployed and another 7.3 million don’t have enough work,” according to the ADB report. The biggest challenge for the Philippines today is to strengthen the link between economic growth and development by creating a greater number and variety of productive jobs, said Usui. Noting that employment growth is being driven largely by the services sector, he called for increased efforts to reinvigorate the manufacturing sector, which has been on a decline over the past two decades, to create more work for semi- or unskilled workers. He also recommended structural transformation based on a clear, long-term vision, including the removal of long-standing barriers to growth, such as the high cost of doing business in the country. “This requires sustained efforts to clear obstacles to direct investment, to upgrade infrastructure, and to make improvements to governance. The government must also step up work with the private sector to develop plans for the development of niche market industries in manufacturing and agribusiness on which the Philippines could capitalize,” the report said. – PHILEXPORT News and Features‐economy‐soars‐no‐jobs‐created               

NPLs of thrift, rural banks up in March By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 21, 2013 ‐ 12:00am 

MANILA, Philippines - The bad loan ratio of thrift, rural and cooperative banks worsened in the first quarter from a year ago as soured loans grew faster than the total credit portfolio, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported over the weekend. The banks’ non-performing loan (NPL) ratio or the percentage of bad loans against the total credit portfolio went up to 7.77 percent in end-March from 7.61 percent in the same period last year. It was also worse than the 7.34 percent recorded in end-2012. “(T)he banks NPLs grew by above 10-percent year-on-year vis-a-vis an eight-percent rise in TLP (total loan portfolio) during the period,” the BSP said. Central bank data showed NPL loans climbed to P44.18 billion in March from P40.03 billion last year, while the total loan portfolio increased to P568.71 billion from P526.27 billion. However, the BSP assured thrift, rural and cooperative banks have enough reserves to cover possible losses from the loans. The bank’s NPL coverage ratio improved to 66.52 percent in March from 64.60 percent last year. But this is slightly below the 66.78 percent recorded in end-2012. “The monitoring of banks’ loan quality is part of measures to ensure that said financial intermediaries continue to adhere to high credit standards,” the BSP said. “This is essential to maintaining financial stability, which is a primary objective of the [BSP],” the central bank added. Individually, the thrift banks saw an improvement in their bad loan ratio, while that of rural and cooperative banks declined. The NPL ratio of thrift banks slid to 6.13 percent in March from 6.48 percent last year. Thrift banks’ NPL loans climbed three percent to P26.93 billion from P26.09 billion, while their total loan portfolio grew nine percent to P439.24 billion from P402.54 billion. Rural banks’ NPL ratio, meanwhile, worsened to 13.26 percent in March from 11.37 percent last year.Rural banks’ bad loans jumped 28 percent to P16.07 billion from P12.59 billion, whlie their total credit portfolio only expanded by nine percent to P121.15 billion from P110.70 billion.‐thrift‐rural‐banks‐march   

Oishi launches new products  (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 21, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  0 googleplus0  0  

MANILA, Philippines - Twenty-four hours seem never enough for everything that you need and want to do. On the fullest of days, unhealthy choices become inevitable, such as skipping meals to rush to a meeting or to beat deadlines. So, what do you do to keep you going without interrupting your busy day? Choose a drink that’s delicious, nutritious as well as easy and filling at the same time. Try Oishi’s new beverage offerings: Oaties Milk and Oaties Choco Chug Chocolate Milk Drink. It is the first ready-to-drink milk of its kind in the market that is made more delicious and nutritious with finely ground oats. Each 250ml serving contains 4g of fiber, which you won’t get from regular cow’s milk! Thicker and creamier with no preservatives, Oaties Milk and Oaties Choco Chug are yummy ready-to-drink alternatives to regular milk. They come in tetra packs, perfect quick snacks for those always on the go. So, drink up and grab some Oishi Oaties Milk and Oishi Oaties Choco Chug. To sip is to believe! For more information, visit their website, or like their Facebook page,‐launches‐new‐products                             

Phl gives Thailand until next month to reply to WTO cigarette ruling By Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 21, 2013 ‐ 12:00am   0  0 googleplus0  0  

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is giving the Thai government until next month to address issues in relation to its full compliance on the World Trade Organization’s ruling on a cigarette tax case. Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. told reporters the Philippines needs to wait for Thailand’s explanation on why it has yet to fully comply with the WTO’s order until next month. “We are waiting for Thailand to answer...That will determine our decision,” he said. He said that if Thailand is unable to address the issues and provide explanation for not being able to fully comply with the ruling, the Philippine government may move for formal proceedings under the WTO which will enforce Thailand’s compliance to the order. “I think we will know by November if we will pursue compliance,” he said. In the past meetings of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body, the Philippines has continued to raise the issue that Thailand has not been able to address concerns which relate to the actions of certain governmental agencies that appear to make findings on Customs valuation issues without operating under the WTO Customs Valuation Agreement. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  

The Philippine government has been engaged in bilateral discussions with Thailand in Geneva through respective WTO missions to be able to monitor its actions in relation to the WTO ruling. In 2011, the WTO ruled that Thailand should implement reforms on Customs valuation and taxes as it was found to be charging higher duties on cigarettes from Philip Morris Philippines. The ruling was issued as the Philippines filed a case in behalf of Philip Morris against Thailand before the WTO in 2008. Thailand was given a reasonable period for time to comply with the ruling. The first deadline given to Thailand was in May 15 of last year.‐gives‐thailand‐until‐next‐month‐reply‐ wto‐cigarette‐ruling   

Black sand mining persists in Cagayan Excavators even destroy tombs, scatter skeletons in cemetery  Philippine Daily Inquirer   10:18 pm | Sunday, October 20th, 2013    3  95  63  


HEAVY equipment belonging to Hua Xia Mining and Trading Corp. dig up black sand from the front lawns of houses in Calayan village in Gonzaga town in this file photo taken in October last year. Such operations have continued until today, according to antimining advocates, despite a series of raids by government authorities and petitions from opposing groups. Melvin Gascon/Inquirer Northern Luzon BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—Environmental advocates in Cagayan province on Sunday lamented the apparent helplessness of the government in stopping what they described as illegal black sand mining operations by foreign companies, mostly Chinese, in the province’s northern coastal areas. Esperlita Garcia, board director of the Federation of Environmental Advocates of Cagayan (Feac), said antimining advocates there were appalled by how the Chinese have continued

dodging stoppage orders from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and a recent crackdown launched by the National Bureau of Investigation. “Their activities stopped only for a while [when the NBI] arrested a number of Chinese personnel. But after only a few weeks, they resumed [operations]. That day in late August when authorities seized some of their heavy equipment, activities resumed that very same night,” Garcia said. In Gonzaga town, Garcia said operations continued in Cabanbanan Norte, Casitan and Calayan villages, with heavy equipment now digging up even front yards of residents’ houses in exchange for little compensation. Even sections of the public cemetery in Casitan were not spared, she said, with excavators destroying tombs and scatter skeletons. “It was stopped only when a backhoe fell into a huge pit that a mining company was digging, killing the operator and his assistant. But they just moved elsewhere,” said Garcia, a Gonzaga native. Feac sources said black sand mining had gone unabated in Aparri and Buguey towns, where the NBI conducted a series of raids against mining operations that are run by undocumented Chinese. “It is even worse here because the black sand that is dug up from the mouth of the Cagayan River is directly loaded onto barges and cargo vessels and are immediately smuggled out of the country,” said the source, who asked not to be named for fear of his safety.

Garcia expressed dismay that despite the breakthroughs that the anti-black sand mining task force achieved in recent months and the series of letters and petitions they had sent to Malacañang, Chinese companies have managed to continue with their operations. “We are surprised by the tremendous power that these foreign mining companies wield in our country. They seem to be above the law,” Garcia said. But Mario Ancheta, regional director of the MGB in Cagayan Valley, clarified that the reported ongoing black sand extraction activities were legitimate operations. “Only extraction within the 200-meter zone [from the coastline] is prohibited. As for Aparri and Lal-lo [towns], they have this existing [memorandum of agreement] for the dredging of the Cagayan River,” he said. Gonzaga Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. confirmed that operations continued in his town, but denied that these violated environmental laws.

“I do not have the authority to stop them because they have been issued permits. But we [in the local government] are doing our best to make sure they comply with the laws and that they do not cause too much environmental damage,” Pentecostes said. He dismissed reports that black sand extraction extended up to the Casitan public cemetery. “It was about to be mined but the company backed off due to a Chinese belief about the curse that the desecration of the dead brings to their business,” he said. Buguey Mayor Lloyd Antiporda also denied that illegal black sand mining continued in his town. “We are currently preparing for the dredging of the [Buguey lagoon] which may have been mistaken as part of mining operations,” he said. The Inquirer tried to reach Aparri Mayor Ismael Tumaru but he did not respond to text messages sent to his mobile phone on Sunday. Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon   Read more:‐sand‐mining‐persists‐in‐ cagayan#ixzz2iKCM0mLG   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                           

GSIS to dispose of assets worth P30B State pension fund plans to hold auction by yearend  By Michelle V. Remo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   7:14 pm | Sunday, October 20th, 2013  


Roberto Vergara, GSIS president and general manager (Photo from The Government Service Insurance System will push through with its asset disposal program, where it plans to sell several pieces of property worth an estimated P30 billion in an auction it hopes to hold before the end of the year. Roberto Vergara, GSIS president and general manager, said the state firm would sell off several assets located in key cities in Metro Manila to boost the pension fund. The GSIS was supposed to bid out the assets in the first quarter, but was delayed by administrative matters, Vergara said. “We want to monetize some of our assets, including parcels of land in various cities,” Vergara told the Inquirer last week. The GSIS will hold on to the property that are essential to its operations and sell the rest of its assets, Vergara said. One key asset up for sale is the former Jai Alai property in Manila, he said. Spanning 6,470 square meters, the property was previously valued at around P450 million.

In February, the Inquirer identified other GSIS assets to be sold. These include an 821-squaremeter property near the US Embassy in Manila, two pieces of property on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City—each measuring a little over 1,000 square meters—and two lots in Mandaluyong City measuring 495 and 300 square meters, respectively. Proceeds from the sale will be used to boost the fund of GSIS. The state firm is now exploring other opportunities in the capital market to generate more income. Vergara said the GSIS had P770 billion in gross assets as of the end of September. Of the total, about P120 billion are in various forms of investments like equities and fixed income instruments. He said the GSIS recently held off plans to invest abroad. It decided that, for the moment, it would be prudent to concentrate its investments on the domestic market. Vergara said that when the GSIS made the decision, it took into account the continuing uncertainties in the world economy and the favorable growth performance of the Philippines. “The Philippines is on good ground. Many foreign funds are going here. And so it may be difficult to justify bringing GSIS funds out of the country,” he said. Vergara said that, with the Philippine economy on a robust growth track, corporate profits are expected to rise. This, in turn, will result in an increase in stock prices. With these developments, the GSIS stands to gain much in terms of earnings from its equity investments, he said. Of its P120-billion investment fund, Vergara said, 17 percent are currently in stocks. The GSIS may consider increasing its exposure to the stock market to as much as 20 percent, Vergara added.‐to‐dispose‐of‐assets‐worth‐p30b               

Small banks’ bad loans up by 10% By Paolo G. Montecillo  Philippine Daily Inquirer   6:45 pm | Sunday, October 20th, 2013  

Soured loans held by small domestic banks grew by 10 percent in the first quarter amid aggressive lending activities, based data released by the central bank. In a statement, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said the provisions of thrift, rural and cooperative banks for these nonperforming loans (NPL) also rose as they sought to cover possible losses that might affect the welfare of their depositors. The combined nonperforming loans (NPLs) of thrift, rural and cooperative banks represented 7.77 percent of their total loan portfolio of P568.71 billion at the end of the first quarter this year. The BSP attributed the increase in the industry’s NPL ratio this year from 7.61 percent last year to the 10.3-percent year-on-year rise in soured loans vis-à-vis the 8-percent increase in loan portfolio in the same period. The banks’ loan loss reserves for bad loans, meanwhile, stood at 66.52 percent of NPLs in March, up from the 64.60 percent a year ago. “Provisioning for NPLs is a prudential measure for mitigating potential credit losses,” the BSP said. The risk of small banks’ level of bad loans undermining the health of the country’s financial system was downplayed by the central bank, saying that thrift banks made up only 10.47 percent of the total industry. Rural and cooperative banks, meanwhile, were just 2.89 percent and 0.20 percent, respectively, of the Philippine banking system’s total loan portfolio in March this year. NPLs of universal and commercial banks, which dominate the country’s banking system, eased to 2.68 percent of their loan portfolio from 2.75 percent in March and 3.01 percent in June of 2012. The BSP said local banks were able to resist the temptation of relaxing their standards and lend excessively to the public to increase profits. It said bank lending standards remained high despite the ample liquidity in the system. The rise in NPLs was attributed to rural and cooperative banks, which saw bad loans reach 13.26 percent and 14.22 percent of their respective loan portfolios. Thrift banks saw their NPLs ease to 6.13 percent of their loan portfolio as of the end of March, from 6.48 percent a year ago. This was matched by a slight rise in the thrift banks’ loan loss reserves to 70.43 in March from 69.64 percent a year ago.‐banks‐bad‐loans‐up‐by‐10 

World View 

Waste not, want not By Achim Steiner, José Graziano da Silva  9:23 pm | Sunday, October 20th, 2013  

ROME—Every year, we waste or lose 1.3 billion metric tons of food—one-third of the world’s annual food production. The sheer scale of the number makes it almost impossible to grasp, no matter how one approaches it. Try to imagine 143,000 Eiffel Towers stacked one on top of another, or a pile of 10 trillion bananas. The figure is all the more unfathomable, given that, alongside this massive wastage and loss, 840 million people experience chronic hunger on a daily basis. Many millions more suffer from “silent hunger”—malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. For the more economically minded, here is another number: food wastage and loss, expressed in producer prices, costs roughly $750 billion per year. If we were to consider retail prices and the wider impacts on the environment, including climate change, the figure would be much higher. In an era of austerity, it is difficult to understand how such a massive hemorrhage of resources could be neglected. In fact, in some places, the volume of food wastage is rising. Now a new report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization focuses on another troubling aspect of the problem: the negative consequences for the environment and the natural resources on which we rely for our survival. When food is lost or wasted, the energy, land and water resources that went into producing it are squandered as well. At the same time, large amounts of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere during production, processing, and cooking. From any perspective—ethical, economic, environmental, or in terms of food security—we simply cannot tolerate the annual wastage of 1.3 billion tons of food. This is why serious reduction of food loss and wastage is one of the five elements of UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon’s “Zero Hunger Challenge” and a major focus of the UN High Level Task Force on Global Food Security. We are working together within the UN system and with a broad coalition of other partners to ensure universal access to adequate food all year round; eliminate childhood stunting; make all food systems sustainable; and eradicate rural poverty.

Next week, the Global Green Growth Forum in Copenhagen will allow for a deeper look at this issue. There is much that can be done. For starters, food loss and wastage needs to be seen as a cross-cutting policy issue, rather than a lifestyle choice to be left in the hands of individual consumers and their consciences. The world needs to wake up to the need for policies that address all stages of the food chain, from production to consumption.

Food loss—on farms, during processing, transport, and at markets—undermines food security in most developing countries, where post-harvest losses can reach as high as 40 percent of production. Investment in infrastructure for transport, storage and marketing of food is badly needed, as are programs to train farmers in best practices. In developed countries, food-retailing practices require a rethink. For example, rejection of food products on the basis of aesthetic concerns is a major cause of wastage. Some supermarkets have already begun relaxing standards on fruit appearance, selling “misshapen” items at reduced prices and helping to raise awareness that ugly does not mean bad. More approaches like this— and concerted efforts to find markets or uses for surplus food—are needed. Businesses and households alike should monitor where and how they waste food and take corrective steps, because prevention of wastage is even more important than recycling or composting. Yes, 1.3 billion tons is a mind-boggling figure. But these simple steps are easy enough to grasp—and within reach for everyone. The world confronts many seemingly intractable problems; food wastage is one issue that we all can do something about now. Project Syndicate José Graziano da Silva is director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Achim Steiner is executive director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). Their organizations are founding partners of the Think Eat Save—Reduce Your Foodprint campaign, launched earlier this year.   Read more:‐not‐want‐not#ixzz2iKGd1zsu   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook                     

To counter farm losses Agri weather office proposed By Maricel Cruz | Posted 9 hours ago | 44 views

A party-list lawmaker on Sunday batted for the enactment of a measure seeking the creation of an Agricultural Weather Office in the Department of Agriculture to provide farmers with updates to help minimize the losses caused by destructive climate patterns. Rep. Delphine Gan Lee, of Agri-Agra na Reporma para sa Magsasakang Pilipinas Movement party-list said “every year, agricultural crops worth millions of pesos are lost and damaged by such unforeseen weather disturbances” that continue to worsen. “These losses are caused by the lack or inadequacy of weather information that will enable agricultural producers to take the necessary precautions against natural calamities.” Gan Lee said under his proposal, the Agricultural Weather Office will collate and disseminate weather information to serve “the needs of agricultural producers.” If enacted, he said, the AWO would be tasked “to plan and administer the National Agricultural Weather Information System.” The proposed measure mandates the DA, through the AWO, to enter into cooperative projects with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration and other related government agencies to: support operational weather forecasting and observation useful in agriculture; sponsor joint workshops to train agriculturalists about the optimum utilization of agricultural weather and climate data; jointly develop improved computer models and computing capacity; enhance the quality and availability of weather and climate information needed by agriculturalists; and obtain standardized weather observation data collected in near real time through regional Agricultural Weather Information Systems. PAGASA had estimated that an average of 20 tropical cyclones hit the country on a yearly basis. The most number of tropical cyclones occurred in 1993, which recorded 32, while the least number of tropical cyclones occurred in 1998, wherein 11 were recorded.

Historically, Gan Lee said, typhoons that hit the country in the latter part of the year are usually the strongest; three of the typhoons that have made the most damage financially in the past three years hit the country between September and December. “The most damage to rice harvests occurred in October 2010, when as much as 523,013 metric tons of palay were lost due to the onslaught of Typhoon Juan,” he said.‐counter‐farm‐losses‐agri‐weather‐office‐ proposed/                                     

Ex-generals join pork call, earn rebuke By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted 8 hours ago | 1,296 views

Malacanang said Sunday there was no need to fear the people’s initiative being pushed by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno to abolish all forms of pork barrel. But presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte slammed the retired generals for asking President Benigno III to give up his own lump sums. “There is no need to fear that [the people’s initiative]. We have no doubts over that because a citizen’s initiative is within the bounds of law and they are free to pursue that as they wish,” deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said. “In any democracy that is part of our Constitution, they are perfectly free to pursue any means or measures that they feel would push their advocacies forward.” A people’s initiative would require the support of at least 10 percent of the total number of registered voters across the country and at least 3 percent of the registered voters in each congressional district. The Palace initially pointed to the Arroyo administration as the one responsible for perpetuating the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund. But amid the reports that the abuses continued under his administration, President Benigno Aquino III eventually admitted that the PDAF, as well as the realigned savings through the Disbursement Acceleration Program, were also misused. Valte was less genial toward the call of retired military generals for Aquino to give up his own discretionary funds. “There is no presidential pork barrel,” Valte said. “It’s a label that some groups out there would like to push upon the citizenry to turn citizens against the President and to divert attention away from the real issues at hand.” When pressed if she was accusing the retired military generals of being part of the unseen hands trying to bring down Aquino, Valte quickly caught herself.

“No, not them specifically,” Valte said, referring to the Association of Generals and Flag Officers. “Perhaps the information on the matter [that the President does not have pork barrel] may not have been fully available to them at the time their statement was made.” Retired Brig. Gen. Rosalino Alquiza, a former AGFO president, had said the Malampaya Fund, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. fund and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office fund should go to the National Treasury. Malacañang has remained firm on keeping Aquino’s lump sum allocations: the Special Purpose Funds that stood at P957 billion this year and the P5.25 billion President’s Social Fund as of December last year. “The Special Purpose Fund, by its very name, is self-explanatory,” Valte said in an earlier interview. “These are funds [that]…by their nature, could not be itemized. If we itemize these, and then there is an unforeseen event, expenses cannot be programmed under the SPF and we can actually be liable for [misuse] if we do it that way.” Valte said calling the SPF completely discretionary was “a little bit too general” because the allocations were identified. But compared to this year’s P24.79 billion PDAF, the congressional pork barrel is only 2.6 percent of the President’s SPF. The items under the SPF include the P1-billion contingency fund, the P98.72-billion Pension and Gratuity Fund, the P333.9-billion debt service fund, and the P319.84allocation for government units. Social Watch Philippines lead convenor and former National Treasurer Leonor Briones has called on the government to abolish the SPF, which she has described as the “queen bee” of pork barrel.‐generals‐join‐pork‐call‐earn‐rebuke/       

Cloudy, rainy By PNA | Posted 8 hours ago | 73 views

A cloudy and rainy weather may persist in many parts of Luzon due to northeast monsoon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said on Sunday. Forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said although there is no weather disturbance near or within the Philippine territory, the northeast monsoon will continue to induce rain in Luzon in the next two days. Aurelio said that the northeast monsoon is expected to bring cloudy skies to ther egionis of Ilocos, Cordillera, Cagayan Valley, Bicol and the provinces of Aurora and Quezon will experience scattered light rains. The temperature in Metro Manila will range from 21-31 degrees Celsius for Sunday while Baguio at 14-23 degrees Celsius. Aurelio said the agency will continue monitoring tropical storm with international name: “Francisco” off Pacific Ocean. He said that the tropical storm was moving northward and was likely to enter the Philippine territory on Tuesday. Once it enters the Philippine territory, Aurelio said it will be named “Urduja,” the fourth cyclone to enter the country this month and the 21st for this year. Aurelio however said that just like typhoon “Tino,” the cyclone is likely to stay inside the Philippine territory in less than 48 hours. He said it is not expected to make landfall since it willjust pass along the “corner” of the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR). PAGASA said that moderate to strong winds blowing from the northeast will prevail over Luzon and its coastal waters will be moderate to rough.‐rainy/     

Marcos wants road user’s tax take fully explained By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Posted 8 hours ago | 257 views

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is looking into the use of billions of pesos collected as road user’s tax, or the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge, reputedly the government’s third biggest source of tax revenue. Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on public works, has directed the Road Board, the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Department of Public Works and Highways to submit to his panel detailed breakdown of MVUC expenditure. “I asked them to submit the breakdown of expenditure (of the MVUC) to determine if they are spending it properly, or if they are spending it on matters that should take lower funding priority,” he said. The move came amid reports that out of the P90.7 billion in tax collection since it started in 2001 up to December last year, only P10.2 billion remained as of the end of 2012, despite an average annual collection of about P7 billion. Road Board director Adolfo Escalona told the committee that as of July 31, 2013, P4.6 billion has been spent for Fund 151 (Special Road Support Fund) and P127 million for Fund 153 (Special Road Safety Fund). For processing are P43 million in various programs proposed by the Department of Interior and Local Government out of Fund 153 (Special Road Safety Fund) and the DOTC Fund 151 (Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund) which is pending release. He said the balance consists of P229 million for Fund 151; P328 million for Fund 152; P280 million for Fund 153; and P4.9 billion for DOTC Fund 151. “I see some room for adjustment (on the use of the MVUC funds), as some of the projects were either not completed, not approved, or not accredited for whatever reasons. We will see how we can improve this system to ensure MVUC funds are used properly and for the right purposes,” Marcos said.‐wants‐road‐users‐tax‐take‐fully‐ explained/ 

School cooks giant paella By Jess Malabanan | Posted 8 hours ago | 20 views

Angeles City — With 11-feet in diameter, the biggest so far in the history of culinary perhaps in Central Luzon and in the entire country, biringhe, a local version of the sumptuous Spanish paella, was the main ‘course’ during the three day food festival held at the Marquee Mall here Friday.

Big bite. Culinary students and local chefs prepare the giant paella known as “biringhe” during the three-day food festival. JESS MALABANAN Rainier Perez, Culinary professor at System Plus College Foundation, said it took them more than two hours to cook the giant paella. The ingredients include 26 kilos of malagkit rice, 10 kilos of dressed chicken, five kilos of chorizo, five kilos of mixed vegetables, a gallon of coconut milk and a gallon of chicken broth. The giant biringhe was offered to visitors and guests who witnessed the cooking demonstration. Dubbed as “Big Bite! The Northern Food Festival”, the event was a sort of showdown of wide array of food products from Northern and Central Luzon and the biggest culinary celebration of Luzon for this year. Over 100 food vendors from Metro Manila, Pampanga, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Zambales, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Ilocos, and La Union have participated in food market bringing with them their specialties. Vice Mayor Vicky vega-Cabigting said the City is honored being chosen as the venue for such a major event citing distinctive Kapampangan way of welcoming guests.‐cooks‐giant‐paella/   

Once a liar By Manila Standard Today | Posted 8 hours ago | 842 views

Caught with its grubby hands in the cookie jar, the Aquino administration is trying to wiggle out of its illegal use of public funds through its Disbursement Acceleration Program in the worst possible way—by using the tragedy in the Visayas as cover. As the death toll rose from the 7.2 magnitude temblor that devastated Bohol, Cebu and other southern provinces, the Palace announced that it was about to deplete its calamity and contingency funds and would have to take money from government savings to give aid and succor to the earthquake victims. At first glance, the suggestion seems reasonable—given the massive aid and rehabilitation that will be required. But against the backdrop of several lawsuits and public outrage over Mr. Aquino’s unauthorized use of public funds through the DAP, however, the announcement from the Palace was suspect, at best. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, who has exhibited his prowess in financial acrobatics to justify the diversion of funds already allocated by Congress, insists that the budget for earthquake relief and rehabilitation will not come from the DAP. “We will get the augmentation from our savings,” he said. But this was the same line that he and the Palace fed the public to explain how billions of pesos ended up in DAP projects that Congress had never even heard of. The “savings,” in fact, were not even savings in the true sense of the word, but money appropriated from “slow-moving” projects that had already been approved by Congress. Oddly enough, more than P1 billion in such funds found its way to lawmakers who signed the impeachment complaint and later convicted the chief justice of the Supreme Court, a political enemy of President Benigno Aquino III. What were the odds that those who were unable to sign the same complaint or those who voted to acquit the chief

justice received no such allocations? “Coincidence,” as the author Emma Bull said, “is the word we use when we can’t see the levers and pulleys.” Already caught in at least two lies—that the DAP allocations came from “savings” and that the funds were not used as a bribe to ensure the ouster of Mr. Aquino’s enemy— the Palace and its trolls would have us believe in a third. But some lawmakers quickly saw through the ruse and called on the Palace to stop exploiting the “misfortune of the quake victims in Bohol and Cebu as a justification for the use of the DAP to respond to disaster-related concerns.” Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said the Palace’s announcement shows how desperately the Aquino administration clings to the pork barrel system. Rep. Neri Colmenares added that it was “insensitive” of President Aquino and his allies to use the plight of the quake victims in the Visayas to maintain the pork barrel system. Can we still trust this President or his Budget secretary to do right when they have lied to so many times before? Faced with mounting public outrage over the Palace’s efforts to defend a corrupt system, President Aquino—with the Senate President and House Speaker by his side —had declared in a pointless PR exercise that pork barrel would be abolished, only to say in the next breath that it would be replaced with a new and as yet unnamed “mechanism.” His mouthpiece at the Palace dismissed queries about pork, saying the President had already abolished it. Yet all these were clearly shown to be lies when the solicitorgeneral admitted before the Supreme Court that the President, in fact, had no power to abolish pork, only to suspend its distribution, which is what he did. What do you call a duplicitous politician who says one thing when he is in the spotlight, but does another while nobody is looking? In most circles we would call him a two-faced liar. In this country, we call him Mr. President.‐a‐liar/   

BSP: Risk appetite back in stock mart By Julito G. Rada | Posted 9 hours ago | 28 views

Investors’ appetite for emerging markets’ assets is back, which could boost stocks in the coming days, after a debt ceiling agreement was reached by the US Congress, Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said over the weekend. “It is back to risk on for most emerging markets, including the Philippines. The increased risk appetite is expected to boost financial markets in the short run,” Tetangco said in a text message to reporters. Tetangco, however, said the volatility would likely continue, as the market watched “where the can is likely going to end up down the road.” He said the longer-term consideration was “whether, when and in what form a more durable solution [in the US] will be reached.” “Markets will keep an eye on forthcoming negotiations and depending on how these will evolve, confidence can either improve or remain low,” he said. The US Congress last week approved an agreement to put an end to a partial government shutdown and averted what could have been a historic debt default. Under the new agreement, however, funding for the government would only be until Jan. 15 and debt ceiling would last on Feb. 7, meaning another possible shutdown might happen early next year. Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said earlier investors should prepare for a possible heady ride through market volatilities. “Perhaps we need to prepare truly for a new normal, or for some people, new abnormal,” Guinigundo said. He said on the interim, central banks and government holders of US treasuries needed to make the necessary adjustments, although options were not readily available.‐risk‐appetite‐back‐in‐stock‐mart/ 

PH cuts agri trade deficit By Anna Leah G. Estrada | Posted 8 hours ago | 9 views

The country reduced its agricultural trade deficit by 70 percent in the first half, amid the strong growth of farm and fishery exports. Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Research showed agricultural trade deficit declined to $424.2 million in the first half, from $1.4 billion a year ago. Agricultural exports in the six-month period grew 30.7 percent to $3.2 billion from $2.5 billion a year earlier. Top agricultural exports in the first half included coconut oil, bananas, tuna, pineapple, tobacco, centrifugal sugar, copra oil cake, seaweeds and carageenan, dessicated coconut and fertilizer. Coconut oil remained the biggest farm export with shipments amounting to $538.3 million in the first half.‐cuts‐agri‐trade‐deficit/                         

‘BOHOL WILL RISE AGAIN’ October 20, 2013 9:47 pm by RHAYDZ B. BARCIA CORRESPONDENT MARIBOJOC, Bohol: Gov. Edgar Chatto of Bohol said Boholanons will rise from the tragedy inflicted by the huge earthquake that devastated the province. “Boholanons are very resilient. Bohol can rise again. We will turn around,” Chatto said as he met the humanitarian team sent by Albay province. The death toll from the 7.2-magnitude earthquake rose to 183 on Sunday. “We never experienced this before. This is the biggest disaster but what is important is the people are helping each other and the bayanihan of the Filipinos is indisputable,” Chatto told Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office. The Albay provincial government and the Office of Civil Defense in Bicol sent a rescue team to Bohol, its sister province. Chatto thanked the Albay team for responding early. Because of aftershocks, residents stayed outside their homes or huddled in tents. Mayor Leoncio Evasco of Maribojoc told The Manila Times the whole town has become one big evacuation center because everybody is affected. “The entire population of Maribojoc needs to undergo a debriefing because we’re experiencing extreme trauma,” Evasco said. “Our concern is food and water. Connect us to Tagbilaran City immediately so we could get back on our feet again. But thank you to the people of Albay for coming and sharing your expertise as it will help us recover gradually and for providing us drinking water after four days of being waterless,” Evasco said. The town’s water reservoir was destroyed by earthquake. “Practice makes perfect. That is why we drill. But real knowledge is derived from experiencing and responding to an actual event,” Gov. Joey Salceda of Albay said. Bicol, specifically Albay province, is also threatened by earthquakes and tsunami, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. “This is where the idea of Team Albay becomes compelling. So, given our zero casualty goal as set by provincial policies, the secondary objective in deploying Team Albay is to flex our muscles aside from our principal objective to help our brothers in crisis situations,” Salceda said. Donations continued to pour for the victims of the earthquake.

The Chinese government gave $80,000 and sent its “deepest condolences to the people who lost their lives . . . as well as heartfelt sympathies for all those who have been affected.” “As a token of solidarity and goodwill for the people of the Philippines in times of need, China donates $80,000 through its Red Cross Society to the Philippines,” the Chinese embassy in Manila said. The Aboitiz Group, through Aboitiz Foundation, dispatched teams to distribute relief goods to the hard-hit towns of Loon, Maribojoc, Tubigon and Carmen. “The Aboitiz Group is fully committed in seeing the Visayas rise from this calamity. This is after all home to us and majority of our team members hail from the Visayas. It is where our roots and our heart lies,” said Aboitiz Foundation Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Sonny Carpio. The Aboitiz Foundation earmarked a P2 million donation for the quake victims, including a P1-million donation from Megastar Sharon Cuneta. AboitizLand, CitySavings, and Pilmico are pooling donations and sending volunteers to support the relief operations. The foundation is also closely coordinating with various local government units, the Philippine Navy, and the Philippine National Police. WITH REPORT FROM BERNICE CAMILLE BAUZON‐will‐rise‐again/46371/                       

Group: Stem cell therapy no cure for diabetes October 20, 2013 9:45 pm The use of stem cell therapy (SCT) is limited to cure only a number of conditions and diseases but these do not include diabetes. According to a public advisory from the Philippine Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism (PSEM), stem cell therapy is regarded as only “an experimental treatment for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.” “There is as yet, no conclusive evidence that SCT is effective and safe for diabetes and as such, it cannot be made available to individuals with diabetes as a standard treatment like the usual drug prescriptions,” the PSEM said. “SCT can only be given to individuals with diabetes under controlled conditions such as under experimental protocols of clinical trials,” it added. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has earlier released three indications in which the use of stem cell therapy (SCT) may be considered standard of care. These are for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, corneal resurfacing with limbal stem cells, and skin regeneration with epidermal stem cells (for burns). “SCT provides medical practitioners an innovative approach to restore health and offers the patients alternative choices,” the FDA said. However, it noted that “the promise of stem cell therapy must be backed by scienceand evidence-based medicine, before it can be part of the standard health care.” The FDA also said that any clinical use of stem cell therapy for diabetes outside of clinical trials is considered illegal. “Patients receiving stem cell therapy under clinical trials should not pay for these experimental treatments and must sign an informed consent form that explains the procedure, its benefits and possible harms,” the FDA said. PNA‐stem‐cell‐therapy‐no‐cure‐for‐diabetes/46362/         

Senate panel starts probe on road user’s tax October 20, 2013 7:47 pm by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA REPORTER THE Senate public works committee has commenced a probe on the multibillion-peso collection from the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC) to determine whether the government agencies that have been receiving the cited revenues are spending them properly. Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairperson of the said panel, directed the Road Board, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to submit to the committee a detailed breakdown of MVUC expenditures. The move was made in the wake of reports that the MVUC fund is quickly depleted despite a steady annual average collection of P6.5 billion. The panel learned that out of the P90.7-billion collected through the MVUC since the Land Transportation Office (LTO) started collecting it in 2001, only P10.2 billion remained as of the end of 2012. The MVUC, popularly known as road user’s tax, was institutionalized by Republic Act 8794 to ensure the adequate maintenance of national and provincial roads. The collected funds, which is being managed by the Road Board, are deposited into four special trust accounts, namely: the special road support fund (SRSuf); special local road fund (SLRF); special road safety funds (SRSaf) and the Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund (SVPCF). The SRSuf, SLRF, and SRSaf are given to the DPWH while the SVPFC goes to the DOTC. Director Adolfo Escalona of the Road Board during last week’s committee hearing reported that as of July 13, the remaining balance of the MVUC collections is tallied at P5.7 billion. Meanwhile, P4.9 billion of the fund is attributed to the SVPCF, which remains unused by the DOTC. On the other hand, P4.6 billion of the MVUC collection has been spent for SRSuf and P127 million for SRSaf during the same period. Escalona noted that the board is still processing P43 million in various programs proposed by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to be funded out of SRSaf. The Road Board, he added, has yet to release anything from the SVPCF this year.

Escalona also told the senate panel that the DOTC pollution control fund ballooned because the board disallowed some of the DOTC’s proposed projects. He noted that the said projects “did not fall within the approved work categories.” During the hearing, Marcos directed Escalona to provide details on the disallowed proposed projects of the DOTC. “I see some room for adjustment [on the use of the MVUC funds], as some of the projects were either not completed, not approved, or not accredited for whatever reasons. We will see how we can improve this system to ensure MVUC funds are used properly and for the right purposes,” Marcos pointed out. The senate public works committee also conducted the hearing to discuss various bills seeking to tap MVUC collections for the maintenance and rehabilitation of mass transit systems. There have been several measures proposed during the past congresses that sought to abolish the Road Board because of its reportedly questionable spending. Sen. Miriam Santiago, during the 14th congress, called the road tax collection “the biggest scandal of this decade,” because officials allegedly refused to observe guidelines, turning the collections into “secret” pork barrel funds of influential politicians. According to the senator, most of the MVUC collection that time was disbursed randomly by the Road Board secretariat to various entities and was not allocated through legal procedures. Instead, the disbursement of funds was based on the request of politicians, other government officials, and district engineers, according to Santiago. The MVUC is the government’s third largest source of tax revenue.‐panel‐starts‐probe‐on‐road‐users‐tax/46314/                 

Bets warned on using major avenues in campaign October 20, 2013 7:46 pm by RITCHIE A. HORARIO   

THE Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Sunday warned candidates in the barangay elections to strictly observe the policy banning the use of Metro Manila’s major thoroughfares for election-related activities. MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said that those who will be proven to have violated the policy would be fined, face one to six years of imprisonment and disqualification from holding public office. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has approved an MMDA proposal to regulate the use of Metro Manila’s major thoroughfares for election-related activities during the barangay elections. The Comelec en banc, through Resolution Number 9749, adopted Resolution Number 9666, authorizing MMDA to regulate the use of major thoroughfares for the conduct of the barangay elections scheduled on October 28. Tolentino pointed out that the conduct of several election campaigns, caravans, rallies and other similar election-related activities in major thoroughfares greatly affect the “already congested flow of traffic.” He added that the Comelec’s approval of his petition would prevent unnecessary traffic jams caused by slow-moving campaign motorcades and caravans. “[The public] should report immediately to the municipal at provincial Comelec office those who violated the policy,” Tolentino said in MMDA’s weekly radio program aired over dzBB. The major roads covered by the resolution are the following: EDSA, C-5, Quezon Avenue, Marcos Highway, Commonwealth Avenue, España Boulevard, E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue, Ramon Magsaysay Avenue, President Quirino Avenue, Aurora Boulevard, Ortigas Avenue, Shaw Boulevard, MIA Road, Domestic Road, Andrews Avenue, South Super Highway, Taft Avenue, Roxas Boulevard, Araneta Avenue, AH. Lacson Street, Rizal Avenue, Katipunan Avenue and A. Bonifacio Avenue. In the case of secondary routes, the MMDA chief said candidates should inform and ask for the agency’s permission three days prior to their motorcade. The campaign period for the barangay elections will last up to October 26.‐warned‐on‐using‐major‐avenues‐in‐campaign/46310/ 

Creation of agri weather office sought October 20, 2013 7:40 pm by JING VILLAMENTE A lawmaker has filed a bill for the establishment of an Agricultural Weather Office in the Department of Agriculture (DA) to minimize the losses caused by extreme changes in weather conditions. Rep. Delphine Gan Lee of Agri party-list reiterated the necessity for a weather office in the wake of the rice crop damage left by Typhoon Santi. “Every year, agricultural crops worth millions of pesos are lost and damaged by such unforeseen weather disturbances. These losses are caused by the lack of weather information which will enable agricultural producers to take the necessary precautions against natural calamities,” she stressed. Gan Lee said the bill “seeks the establishment of an Agricultural Weather Office (AWO) which shall be responsible for the collection and distribution of weather information that will address the needs of agricultural producers.” If passed, the AWO would be tasked “to plan and administer the National Agricultural Weather Information System.” The law would mandate the DA, through the AWO, to collaborate with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) and other related government agencies to support operational weather forecasting and observation useful in agriculture; sponsor joint workshops about the optimum utilization of agricultural weather and climate data; develop improved computer models and computing capacity; enhance the quality and availability of weather and climate information needed by agriculturalists; and obtain standardized weather observation data collected through regional Agricultural Weather Information Systems. Initial estimates of damage caused by Typhoon Santi to rice harvests have been pegged at P3 billion. Despite NEDA’s recommendation to import an additional half million metric tons of rice, DA Secretary Proceso Alcala maintained that the government has no plans of importing additional stocks of rice. However, Roehlano Briones, a senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, said the government should adopt a more open policy toward rice importation. “Even without the devastation, we need a more open policy toward rice importation. The impact of Typhoon Santi makes it even more necessary,” he said, adding that importation would help lower the price of rice.‐of‐agri‐weather‐office‐sought/46300/ 

PDP update to focus on job growth October 20, 2013 7:38 pm by KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO REPORTER The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) over the weekend tapped civil society organizations (CSO) to help generate employment in the midterm update of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP). “A key update to the PDP is highlighting the importance of employment generation to achieve inclusive growth. The update also aimed to mainstream employment concerns and make these concerns more prominent in the chapters where they are relevant,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said. “We recognize that the recent rapid economic growth has yet to translate into rapid employment generation and poverty reduction. This is what has occupied us the most in recent months,” added Balisacan, who is also the NEDA director general. To draft the chapters of the PDP midterm update, Balisacan said that they had consultation sessions with CSOs on Friday to seek “inputs and comments” to further improve goals and strategies to inclusive growth. “The midterm update was envisioned as a consultative process and was implemented pursuant to the vision of inclusive growth,” Balisacan said, also referring to update programs and projects of the CSO in relation to midterm PDP update. “While we have put a lot of effort into improving the PDP, it is not by any means exhaustive and we recognize the important role of CSOs in addressing the gaps,” he added. In line with the inclusive growth aim, the NEDA and CSOs discussed new and revised strategies and updates on the PDP such as macroeconomic policies, the financial sector, good governance and the rule of law, industry and services, agriculture and fisheries, infrastructure, environment and natural resources, social development, and peace and security. Earlier, the NEDA also conducted consultations among CSO groups in regions and provinces in addressing regional concerns and gaps in the PDP, as well as bringing various ideas and improvements in the planning process. The 2011-2016 PDP is the administration’s guideline of targets, development goals, projects and improvements among others in different sectors to ramp up the country’s expansion, as well as to pursue the aim for inclusive growth.‐update‐to‐focus‐on‐job‐growth/46295/ 

TBs, RBs and Coop Banks NPLs reach P568B in Q1 October 20, 2013 7:35 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO The combined non-performing loans (NPLs) of thrift (TBs), rural (RBs) and cooperative banks reached P568.71 billion at the first quarter this year, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed. The bank’s NPLs represented 7.77 percent of their total loan portfolio (TLP), up slightly from the 7.61 percent NPL ratio in the same quarter last year. The data added that the banks’ NPLs grew by above 10 percent year-on-year vis-à-vis an 8 percent rise in TLP during the period. Meanwhile, the banks’ loan loss reserves for said soured loans stood at 66.52 percent of NPLs in March. It was higher compared to the 64.60 percent figure posted a year earlier. “Provisioning for NPLs is a prudential measure for mitigating potential credit losses,” the BSP said. The BSP data also showed that thrift, rural and cooperative bank loans represented 10.47 percent, 2.89 percent and 0.20 percent, respectively, of the Philippine banking system’s TLP in March this year. TBs posted a 6.13 percent gross NPL ratio in March, lower than the 6.48 percent registered a year ago. The central bank noted that the drop in gross NPL ratio was matched by a slight rise in TBs’ loan loss reserves, which grew to 70.43 in March from 69.64 percent last year. RBs’ gross NPL ratio stood at 13.26 percent in March, higher than the 11.37 percent posted a year ago. RBs’ loan loss reserves for NPLs, however, increased to 59.80 percent in March from 52.74 percent a year earlier. Cooperative banks’ gross NPL ratio rose to 14.22 in March from 10.36 percent a year ago, while their loan loss provisioning dropped to 68.66 percent of NPLs from 77.69 percent during the same period.‐rbs‐and‐coop‐banks‐npls‐reach‐p568b‐in‐q1/46286/     

Confirmation bias: Wild elephants, tired gorillas October 20, 2013 7:34 pm by REYLITO A.H. ELBO BEYOND THE BUZZWORDS Reylito A.H. Elbo Why do people believe astronomers when they claim there are 400 billion stars, and yet the same people check when you say the paint is wet in a public park bench? Is this an integrity or credibility issue? The obvious and simple answer, of course is the fact that anyone can indeed check the facts by merely touching the bench, but not, if you try to count the stars in the Milky Way. Prejudice is really a great time saver. It allows one to form an opinion while ignoring the facts. The same thing is true in our religious beliefs. This brings me to tell you this story: There was a popular religious leader teaching his followers in the jungles of India. Devotees from around the country came to hear his teachings—that which most people considered reality was only an illusion. During one of his discourses, his lecture was stampeded by a herd of wild elephants. He and his followers immediately climbed trees to protect themselves from imminent bodily harm, if not death. As they gathered composure and returned to their teachings, one doubting follower asked the religious master why, if the elephants were only illusions and not real, the religious leader joined the rest of the group climbing up trees. The teacher’s answer was a question: “What elephants are you talking about?” In psychology, the nearest buzzword explanation to this is “confirmation bias”—the tendency of people to source, discover, read, and analyze information that confirms their beliefs, even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. We manifest this bias when we gather information and interpret it in a biased way. Confirmation bias happens because many of us are afraid to be proven wrong, even in the face of neutral and scientific facts. Recently, this came to me again when I tried without much success to convince several colleagues not to give a certain award to a candidate, simply because he barely made it when compared to the established criteria. And yet, my colleagues stood their ground

on the belief that this person could help us promote our advocacy, never mind that we throw the rules in the trash can. My questions were overly clear and succinct: “Can you guarantee it? Do we have convincing proof in the past when our past decisions confirm this belief?” The answer was a deafening silence that I can’t help asking the question: “If you’re going to shoot a mime, would you still use a silencer?” I could not believe that people who are holding key executive positions in their respective organizations can make a foolish decision like it. So, OK, personally I’m not a charismatic person like Masaaki Imai. But I have an amplifier like this column which is popular enough to serve as my sounding board. Really, I like writing articles because it gives me the platform to air my grievance in public. For now, however, that mystery remains unsolved. Wild elephants may come and go, and still people can’t see it happen. Even as you read this article, another herd could be clustering ominously around us. It is a chilling thought, and until the authorities come up with a plan of action, I am urging everybody to take the sensible precaution of developing an anti-confirmation bias. These people who are seriously afflicted with confirmation bias are fast turning into zombies. Some of them have turned out to be man-made objects like weather balloons or satellites that float in the air. And some choose to remain not to explain their action. The mainstream management community tends to believe these are probably some phenomena that could, with sufficient valid information, be identified with something that borders on immorality, if not illegality. And so I’m now being unfairly aged by people who don’t share my dynamic views. But never mind, as long as my views are documented in black and white, I don’t mind being overruled by fools and jerks. Only time will tell that I was not part of it all. In due time, I will have the last laugh to say: “See, that’s what I’ve told you before.” I will continue to fight confirmation bias and their followers. After all, persistence is like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you get tired. You quit when the gorilla gets tired. (MT 10-21-13) Rey Elbo is a business consultant on human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random management thoughts.‐bias‐wild‐elephants‐tired‐gorillas/46287/     

Posted on October 20, 2013 11:20:33 PM

Comelec warns candidates on filing campaign expense reports THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) has ordered the removal from office of winning candidates in the May 13, 2013 elections who failed to file their campaign expense reports before the poll body.  In a minute resolution, the Comelec, in full session, would issue an “order to remove from office those candidates who failed to file their SOCEs [Statement of Contributions and Expenses] for their midterm elections.” The order would also cover candidates who submitted incomplete campaign finance statements as well as those who refused to correct deficiencies despite the issuance of notices by the poll body. The resolution was based on the recommendation of Elections Commissioner Christian Robert S. Lim, the head of the Comelec’s Campaign Finance Steering Committee. To implement the order, the Comelec will furnish the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) a copy of the poll body’s report on campaign finance compliance of candidates with the SOCEs. Under Comelec Resolution 9558, local candidates who fail to file SOCEs before the June 13 deadline face administrative fines ranging from P10,000 to P20,000 for the first offense, and P20,000 to P40,000 for the second offense. Repeat offenders will be disqualified from running in the elections. Local candidates who ran and won in the May 13 elections, but failed to submit their contributions and expense report was supposed to be barred from assuming office by June 30 based on a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the DILG to prevent non-filers to hold office. The resolution was issued as the Comelec’s campaign finance committee has no way to check whether the MoA “was fully implemented”. Under Republic Act 7166, winning candidates cannot assume office unless they have filed their campaign expense reports before the poll body.

The Comelec is also expected to publish in their Web site the compliance report of candidates with respect to the submission of SOCEs. POLLS POSTPONED In Zamboanga City, the regional office of the Comelec has announced that the date of the special barangay election in this city has been set to Nov. 25, from the original date of Oct. 28. Wilfred Jay E. Balisado, regional director of the Comelec office said on Saturday that the new date was reached after a meeting with representatives from different government agencies. “At the end of the meeting we have come out with a resolution as to the conduct of the special election here on the last Monday of the month (of November),” he said. The barangay elections, which is scheduled on Oct. 28 nationwide, was postponed here due to security concerns following the deadly attack on Sept. 9 by rogue Moro National Liberation Front fighters belonging to the faction led by Nur Misuari. Mr. Balisado said that the resolution has full support from both the police and military. “The police and military are hopeful that by this week, the clearing operation in the areas affected by the crisis will be completed already,” he added. He also confirmed that his office has already forwarded a copy of the resolution to the Comelec’s central office. Comelec Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr. said resetting the local barangay election to Nov. 25 is ideal to avoid any holdover of the elected officials as their term ends on Nov. 30. -- Mikhail Franz E. Flores and Albert F. Arcilla‐warns‐candidates‐on‐ filing‐campaign‐expense‐reports&id=78199 


Posted on October 20, 2013 11:22:17 PM

Drilon wants to realign PDAF for calamities SENATE PRESIDENT Franklin M. Drilon said yesterday that he will pass a resolution seeking to use the dismantled Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for this year to augment the government’s calamity fund, following the earthquake that struck Visayas last Tuesday.  “During our caucus on Wednesday, one of the topics of discussion is passing a resolution to indicate the sense of the Senate to allow whatever remains in the PDAF of the senators may be used by the President to augment the calamity fund,” Mr. Drilon said in a statement. He added that even if the Supreme Court rules it as unconstitutional, as far as he knows as a lawyer and an ex-finance committee chairman, the PDAF may be realigned by the Executive to the calamity fund. As to the PDAF allocation in next year’s budget, Mr. Drilon reiterated his stance that he will lead its complete abolition in the Senate, and states that the said allocation will not be transferred to other items in the budget. This means that the government’s expenditure will go down P4.8 billion if indeed the PDAF allocation is completely abolished, he explained. Meanwhile, on the issue of the Senate subpoena to alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, Mr. Drilon admitted that he has not yet signed the order to compel the businesswoman to appear before the Senate blue ribbon committee even after his declaration to do so during plenary session last Wednesday. He said he joined President Benigno S.C. Aquino III in his state visit to South Korea last week. He, however, assured that he will sign the subpoena as soon as the blue ribbon committee submits the copy of the order for his signature. Mr. Drilon said the subpoena will not be addressed to the detained businesswoman but the Philippine National Police, who is holding Ms. Napoles in custody.

Ms. Napoles must seek the permission of the Makati regional trial court first, before she can appear at the Senate. Further asked if the Makati court may refuse the subpoena, Mr. Drilon sidestepped the question and said he cannot speak for the court but its permission cannot be waived.“We must all work for the prosecution of those who are found involved in the misuse of PDAF. If there is sufficient evidence to convict an accused lawmaker, let’s jail him and likewise, those innocent should be acquitted,” Mr. Drilon said. -- CENP‐wants‐to‐realign‐ PDAF‐for‐calamities&id=78203                                 

Posted on October 20, 2013 11:21:52 PM

Distribution of Luisita titles to be completed THE DEPARTMENT of Agrarian Reform (DAR) yesterday assured that the agency will finish within next month the distribution of land ownership certificates to the farmer beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita. DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony N. Parungao said yesterday that the agency will “exert every effort” to finish the distribution of the copies of Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) to farmer beneficiaries who have not claimed their certificates. “Only around 470 of the 6,189 CLOAs ready for distribution in the 10 barangays have not yet been claimed or just 7%,” Mr. Parungao said in a text message yesterday. He cited that this figure was updated as of last Friday. The CLOAs are ready for pickup and he reported that he has received reports that many of the farmer beneficiaries will be going to the regional DAR offices to claim their certificates next week. In a press release last Friday, the department said there are CLOAs of other farmers still being processed at the Registry of Deeds. Beneficiaries who have not yet signed their Application to Purchase and Farmers Undertaking also have pending CLOAs. -- E. V. Guadalope‐of‐Luisita‐ titles‐to‐be‐completed&id=78202         

Posted on October 20, 2013 11:46:16 PM

Policy rates unlikely to be adjusted MONETARY authorities are expected to keep policy rates at record lows this Thursday as inflation remains manageable and with global worries over the United States’ finances put to rest for the moment.  All nine analysts polled by BusinessWorld said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) overnight borrowing and lending rates would likely be kept at 3.5% and 5.5%, along with special deposit account (SDA) rates. Key rates have been at current levels since October last year, with the central bank’s policymaking Monetary Board noting that the rise in consumer prices remains within expectations. SDA rates, meanwhile, were trimmed by a total of 150 basis points earlier this year to 2.0% in a bid to flush out funds from the facility. The Monetary Board’s meeting this week will be its seventh for the year. Both policy and SDA rates were kept unchanged during its last policy meeting on Sept. 12, although inflation forecasts for this year and the next were trimmed to 3% and 3.9%, respectively, from 3.3% and 4%. The 3.5% forecast for 2015 was retained. Last Friday, Monetary board member Felipe M. Medalla said there was no need to tweak rates up to the first quarter of next year given the manageable inflation outlook. Standard Chartered Bank economist Jeffrey Ng agreed: saying: “The US Federal Reserve’s postponement of its tapering plan and benign inflation are likely to remain supportive of current policy rates.” “We expect the Fed’s tapering to only start in March 2014, and only anticipate the BSP to hike rates by 25 bps in the first quarter and another 25 bps in the second quarter,” he added. “In the meantime, GDP (gross domestic product) growth remains robust and inflation remains muted, providing a good balance for the BSP to keep rates on hold for now.”

Bank of the Philippine Islands economist Emilio S. Neri, Jr., meanwhile, said: “While headline inflation is probably accelerating at much faster pace than the BSP has anticipated, full year 2013 inflation will still fall below the BSP’s target.” “Inflation is not rising fast enough to breach the BSP’s 2014 target either to justify any tightening move...,” he added. Mr. Neri urged the central bank to revise its 2015 inflation target of 2-4% to “avoid significant financial market instability by mid- to late-2014.” “Our recommendation to the BSP that the 2015 inflation target be set to 35% again is precisely to avoid the potentially destabilizing impact of abrupt policy adjustments to meet a somewhat unrealistic target.” He also brought up the possibility of another SDA rate cut before the year ends. “SDA rates can still be cut to 1.5% if speculative flows and carry trade bets pressure the Philippine peso to strengthen too rapidly specially within a US no-taper-talk following a post partial-shutdown context,” Mr. Neri said.‐rates‐unlikely‐ to‐be‐adjusted&id=78215                 

No subpoena signed yet for Napoles Written by Angie M. Rosales

Monday, 21 October 2013 00:00 Drilon vows to affix signature today Senate President Franklin Drilon had held off signing the subpoena for alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim Napoles to appear before a Senate inquiry into the controversy despite his acceding to affix his signature to the document last Wednesday. Drilon was among senators being linked to Napoles with some personalities claiming his supposed ties with the architect of the P10-billion scam dating several years back and this link has been insinuated by some quarters as the possible reason for his alleged apprehension in having Napoles interrogated by his peers before the Senate blue ribbon panel. While he vehemently denied his link to Napoles in his privilege speech last Wednesday where he also announced his decision to finally sign the subpoena issued and requested to be approved by blue ribbon chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, Drilon admitted yesterday he had yet to sign the subpoena to be served on Napoles. Drilon said he failed to sign the document as he left last Thursday evening to join President Aquino in his two-day official visit to Seoul, South Korea that ended Friday. “I will sign it first thing on Monday (today),� Drilon said, adding that he will sign it immediately when the committee submits the copy of the subpoena for his signature. Drilon, neverhteless, remained noncommittal on facing and grilling the detained Napoles when she appears before the Senate panel. Drilon, who has been participating since day one on the committee’s investigation into the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam masterminded by Napoles, yesterday said his

attendance in the public hearing will depend upon his availability. “I have nothing to hide. When I first joined the Senate, I have always adhered to the platform that all should obey the law. For me, when I was with the DOJ (Deparment of Justice as secretary), I always made sure that equal treatment is applied to all accused. My policy has always been to support the prosecution and to place all those who have committed a crime behind bars, whether they are senators or congressmen, when the evidence warrants it, they should be made accountable,” the Senate chief said on radio when asked if he intends to attend the next proceedings. Drilon added whether or not there remains a threat in the life of Napoles, this is not enough reason to prevent her from attending the Senate hearing although her appearance will depend largely on the decision of the court. Contrary to the impression of some that the Senate will seek custody of Napoles to enable her appearance, Drilon said they will address the subpoena to Napoles herself. “Even if the subpoena is directly issued to Napoles, the PNP (Philippine National Police) who has physical custody of Napoles, would still have to secure the permisson of the court, as the PNP is holding Napoles not on its own, but by virtue of the order of the court,” he said. Former Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., who was also once blue ribbon chairman, agreed with the position taken by Drilon saying that the upper chamber can directly serve the subpoena to Napoles even if she is currently under detention. “I think, my personal point of view, I think that the Senate has every right to demand that Napoles be subpoenaed and brought to the Senate. It is up for Napoles to question but I don’t think the Senate should be the first one to look for reasons so that the subpoena should not be enforced because of the sepration of powers. Whether she is right or wrong (in questioning the subpoena) she has the right to question it,” he said over the weekend. “There is no need to seek permission from the court before hand. To my mind, that will give you the assertion of the independence from the Legislative branch from the Executive or the lower branches of the court,” Pimentel said. “I think the Senate had no alternative than to go for it because the people has expressed outrage and with it there is no way the Senate can retain the respect of the people if it will just ignore the demand for Napoles presence in the proceedings,” he said when sought for his opinion on the matter of Drilon seeking the position of the Ombudsman on whether to allow Napoles appear before the committee. Also yesteday, Drilon said those who are proven to have misused the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) must be prosecuted with the full force of the law regardless of their rank and position in government.

“This issue of corruption in the use of the PDAF has already been politicized. But my appeal is that let us just concentrate on the policy of prosecution and orderly administration of justice,” Drilon said. “There is a functioning justice system that will clear the innocent and punish the guilty. We will never shield corrupt officials from being punished,” pointed out Drilon. “We have enough laws in the land to penalize erring and corrupt government officials and we guarantee that we will implement the law,” he added. He said the priority now is to prosecute those involved and ensure that those who misused public funds will be held accountable for their actions. “This Senate investigation will be relentless in searching for the truth. I consider the Pork Barrel Scam as a great injustice to the Filipino people,” Drilon said earlier. “Ensuring that justice is upheld will always be the priority of this administration and that is the reason why we are now working towards holding accountable those who have taken advantage of the loopholes in the system,” he added. “We will guarantee that the truth will come out and that those who will be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt will be punished, jailed, and impeached,” Drilon said. Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda earlier said Drilon had signed the subpoena for the detained businesswoman without consulting his colleagues. “We welcome the decision of the senate president. I understand he made the decision even without consulting senate caucus anymore. Let the investigation proceed,” Lacierda said. The Palace official refused to comment when asked about reports that the camp of Napoles plans to invoke her right against self-incrimination. ”I have no comment on whatever legal strategy the Napoles camp may present during the Senate hearing,” he said. He said there is evidence of misuse of government funds based on the testimonies of the whistleblowers. “It appears to have some basis to say there has been misuse. Some lawmakers, some individuals have profited from the misuse of PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund),” he said. Meanwhile, Lacierda could not immediately comment why Drilon was present in the official delegation to South Korea. ”I will verify. It seems... normally we don’t include congressional leaders but we’ll verify if this is the first time,” he said. After he acceded to the demand of his colleagues to sign the subpoena on Napoles in a privilege speech last Wednesday, members of media were left in the dark whether or not Drilon did sign the document as no copy of a signed subpoena was presented. Also,

there was no mention of any date for Napoles to be called to testify. Drilon relented to sign the subpoena after twice adhering to the Office of the Ombudsman’s opinion in a span of three weeks to set aside summoning Napoles as it could pose problems in their investigation. What finally led to his decision to sign the subpoena, Drilon said, was to once and for all, eradicate any public misconception that he was covering up Senate corruption. “It is unfortunate that my decision to adhere to the decision of Ombudsman Conchito Carpio-Morales has been misconstrued as an effort to hide the truth the public criticism,” Drilon said. “As the head of this institution (Senate) I must lead in restoring the confidence of our people in the Senate,” he added. Drilon said that his earlier decision to defer the signing of the subpoena even became a chance for members of the opposition to malign him and the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III. As former Justice Secretary, he said that he always believed in the “paramount pursuit of justice” and stressed that he had “never been a part of any cover up”. He also said that he considered the pork barrel scam as “a great injustice for the Filipino people” and assured that the Senate will make acting policy changes so there would be no longer be a repeat on multi-billion peso scams. The Senate President, however, emphasized that with this decision, the senate will remain committed to the orderly administration of justice. He added that his earlier decision to adhere to the Ombudsman’s opinion not to summon Napoles was not at all a show of the Senate being bound to the Ombudsman but merely seeking their council. “We are not bound. We seek their counsel,” Drilon said. “It is up to us (Senate) whether to adhere or ignore the (Ombudsman) advice.” “Our priority is to prosecute those who are involved and ensure that those who misused public funds will be held accountable for their functions,” he added. He further said that after meeting with Senate officers Sen. Guingona and Senate President Pro Tempore, Ralph Recto, both of them have expressed full support of his decision. As to when the Blue Ribbon committee probe on Napoles will resume, Sen. Guingona said that he has yet to announce the schedule.‐subpoena‐signed‐yet‐for‐napoles 

‘Sultan’ who launched Sabah incursion dies Written by AFP

Monday, 21 October 2013 00:00

Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, whose followerslaunched a bloody incursion into the Malaysian state of Sabah earlier this year, died of organ failure yesterday, his wife said. Kiram, 75 — who described himself as the “Sultan of Sulu” after a group of islands in Mindanao — died at the the Philippine Heart Center but remained defiant to the end, his wife Fatima said. “The sultan died a poor but honorable man,” she told Agence France Presse, adding his fight to reclaim Sabah as part of the sultanate’s territory would continue. “His last words to all his brothers and followers were, ‘It has already begun. Let us continue it for the good of our people. Do not abandon our people,’” she quoted him as saying. She, however, said this did not mean renewed violence, adding the family was willing to enter into negotiations with Malaysia. Her husband had been undergoing twice-weekly dialysis sessions for kidney disease before his death. Reacting to the death, Malacañang expressed sympathies with the family of the late sultan. “We offer our condolences to the bereaved family and to his loved ones,” deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte told a radio interview. She added the government is still studying the Philippines’ claim to Sabah. In February, at least 100 armed followers of Kiram, who claimed to be the hereditary chief of the “Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo,” entered Sabah to press his claim on

the Malaysian state. After the group refused to lay down their arms Malaysian security forces moved against them, resulting in deadly clashes that left dozens dead and sent the invaders fleeing. The Sultan of Sulu once ruled over islands that are now parts of Mindanao, as well as Sabah. But the sultanate lost control of Sabah to European colonial powers in the 18th Century. The former British colony became part of the federation of Malaysia when it was formed in 1963. Kiram and his family, as heirs to the sultanate, still receive annual compensation from Malaysia — the equivalent of about $1,700 — but he had previously said this amount was far too low. Aside from Kiram, there are other descendants of the sultanate who also claim to be the true sultans of Sulu. Fatima Kiram said her husband’s younger brother, Bantillan, would take over as sultan, stressing he had “the legal authority.”‐who‐launched‐sabah‐incursion‐dies                       

Palace insists Aquino doesn’t have ‘pork’ Written by Paul Atienza

Monday, 21 October 2013 00:00 The Palace continued to cover for President Aquino amid a snowballing demand for him to give up his “pork barrel” the latest call for which came from retired military generals as deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte maintained Aquino does not have “pork barrel” funds. “One, there is no presidential pork barrel. It’s a label that some groups out there would like to push upon the citizenry to turn citizens against the President and to divert attention away from the real issues at hand,” according to Valte. Valte said lump sums provided Aquino are essentially special purpose funds which, by law, are allotted for particular purposes such as the calamity fund and that has been a subject of discussion because of recent developments where funds were needed for crisis which cannot be anticipated,” Valte said. Valte said calamities could be natural if not man made, that gives justification to the President to exercise discretion of the funds. “Because calamities, by their very nature, sometimes man-made, most of the time attributed to mother nature, cannot be anticipated, which is why this discretion or this flexibility is given to the executive, in order to allow this particular branch of government to quickly address the needs of the citizens in times of calamities,” Valte said. Valte said those interested in the process of providing quick response funds can take a look at the Department of Budget and Management website where the flow of these funds is indicated in the interest of accountability and transparency. The special purpose funds (SPF) under the lump sum items of the Executive branch have specific purposes that are laid down by law and are subject to normal auditing processes like any other project in government, Valte added. Valte also said in reaction to the initiative of former Chief Justice Reynato Puno to gather at least six million signature advocating to junk the pork barrel that it is within the bounds of law that they could pursue the campaign. “I understand that they are already galvanizing efforts to garner support for the people’s

initiative against the PDAF as initiated by the group of the former Chief Justice Puno and, of course, they are free to do that. In any democracy that is part of our Constitution, they are perfectly free to pursue any means or measures that they feel would push their advocacies forward,” Valte said. Valte reiterated that the House of Representatives had its initiated measures to scrap the pork barrel items in the 2014 budget. “I understand that the Lower House has already passed its version of the budget for 2014. They have already taken that out as PDAF, and they have parceled it out to the different agencies,” Valte said. Valte said the Aquino administration assured to be on the track to abolish the pork barrel in 2014. “Since the budget for next year is a law and it’s currently being reviewed in both chambers of Congress, then we are in the process of abolishing the PDAF, at least for 2014,” Valte said. “If it is a citizen’s initiative, then that is within the bounds of law and they are free to pursue that as they wish,” Valte said. Valte said the concern of Aquino is to protect the interest of scholars who are dependent on the support derived from the PDAF. Valte said what should be vital is to have a distinction on “whether or not there has been misuse in these funds”. “If there has been misuse, as in the case of PDAF, then certainly let us pursue all logical ends to make sure that the perpetrators are brought to justice,” Valte said.‐insists‐aquino‐doesn‐t‐have‐pork                   

Luisita finally distributed to farmers Written by PNA Monday, 21 October 2013 00:00  

“The land in Hacienda Luisita is now theirs,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes declared Sunday, as his department completed the distribution of Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) to farmer-beneficiaries in Barangay Mapalacsiao in Hacienda Luisita. It is the last of the 10 barangays in the Luisita estate to receive their CLOAs in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling. This was done on schedule, and despite the damage caused by typhoon “Santi” to the area, including many of the barangay covered courts where the CLOA distribution activities were previously held. Some 663 of 745 farmer-beneficiaries (FWBs) received certified true copies of their CLOAs in simple proceedings held at grounds of the barangay hall of Barangay Mapalacsiao. Data from DAR show that a total of 5,718 CLOAs were distributed to FWBs out of a total of 6,189 ready for distribution, or 92.39 percent of the CLOAs registered to date. CLOAs of other FWBs are still being registered with the Registry of Deeds or are still not generated pending the signing by some FWBs of their Application to Purchase and Farmers Undertaking. De los Reyes said that the these figures are going up as FWBs who were not able to receive their CLOAs during the scheduled distribution activities in the barangays have actually been going to the DAR provincial office to get their certified true copies. He said that following the distribution of certified true copies of the CLOAs, the DAR is preparing to install the FWBs in their lots. “We will be installing them in their lots as we progress with the ‘monumenting,’” De los Reyes said. He explained that it is quite impossible to do this at this time when many of the lots are still planted with sugarcane, but assured the FWBs that this will be done when harvesting starts this month so that they will be able clear the area where the “mohons” will be placed. De los Reyes also assured the farmer-beneficiaries of the DAR’s continuing support, saying that even now the Department is engaged in testing and determining soil samples to be used as the definitive reference in the customized interventions and menu of support services to be offered to the FWBs, in recognition of the kinds of crops the FWBs may want to plant.

The DAR began the distribution of CLOAs on Sept. 30 in Barangay Pando. In the subsequent weeks, it distributed certified true copies of CLOAs to FWBs in Barangays Motrico, Lourdes, Parang, Mabilog, Bantug, Cutcut, Asturias, Balete and Mapalacsiao.‐finally‐distributed‐to‐farmers                                       

Comelec to local candidates: Follow election rules, or else... Written by Tribune Monday, 21 October 2013 00:00  

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) advised all the aspirants in the barangay elections to strictly follow the rules they set to avoid being disqualified. The formal campaign period of nine days has started last Oct. 18 wherein all the aspirants started to outdo their rivals in order to get the needed edge to win the polls. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the aspirants should follow all the rules strictly as they have not changed anything and their strictness will the same just like what they implemented in the May 13 mid-term elections. The poll chief said the campaign period in the barangay elections will formally end on Oct. 26, two days before the Monday scheduled elections. Under Comelec rules, the allowed campaign materials are pamphlets, leaflets, cards, decals, stickers or other written or printed materials which must not exceed 8 1/2 inches in width and 14 inches in length; handwritten or printed letters urging voters to vote for or against any particular political party or candidate for public office; and cloth, paper or cardboard posters not exceeding two by three feet. The campaign materials must also be limited in identified common poster areas located in plazas, markets and barangay centers. During the campaign banned as are the removal, destruction, or tampering of lawful campaign materials; use of armored, land, water,and aircraft; donating gifts of in cash or in kind; use of special policemen or agents; and construction or maintenance of provincial, city, municipal, or barangay roads and bridges. Those who will violate the campaign rules is set to be disqualified from public office, removal of right to vote, and one to six years imprisonment. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has filed a petition before the Comelec to deputize the agency to regulate the use of major roads for motorcades and caravans during the barangay election period. The major roads identified by MMDA are Epifanio de los Santos Ave., C-5, Quezon Ave., Marcos Highway, Commonwealth Ave., España Boulevard, E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave., Ramon Magsaysay Ave., President Quirino Ave, Aurora Boulevard, Ortigas Ave., Shaw Boulevard, MIA Road, Domestic Road, Andrews Ave., South Super Highway, Taft

Avenue, Roxas Boulevard, Araneta Ave., A. H. Lacson street, Rizal Ave., Katipunan Ave., and A. Bonifacio Ave. The MMDA stated in its letter to the Comelec that allowing motorcades and caravans along the major roads would affect the free flow of vehicular traffic and cause serious adverse effect on the economy as a whole. Likewise, there are at least nine have died and 14 wounded in 14 suspected electionrelated incidents since the barangay election period started Sept. 28. By Alvin C. Murcia‐to‐local‐candidates‐follow‐election‐rules‐or‐else                                 

Creation of agricultural weather office to help farmers prevent damage pushed Written by Charlie V. Manalo Monday, 21 October 2013 00:00  

In the wake of P3 billion worth of damage to rice crops as a result of typhoon “Santi,” a lawmaker has reiterated the necessity for the establishment of an Agricultural Weather Office (AWO) in the Department of Agriculture (DA) that will provide farmers with weather information that will help minimize the losses caused by extreme changes in weather conditions. “Every year, agricultural crops worth millions of pesos are lost and damaged by such unforeseen weather disturbances,” stressed Agri-Agra na Reporma para sa Magsasakang Pilipinas Movement (Agri) partylist Rep. Delphine Gan Lee. “These losses are caused by the lack or inadequacy of weather information that will enable agricultural producers to take the necessary precautions against natural calamities,” he added The bill filed by Gan Lee “seeks the establishment of an AWO which shall be responsible for the collection and distribution of weather information that will address the needs of agricultural producers.” If passed, the AWO would be tasked “to plan and administer the National Agricultural Weather Information System.” The law would mandate the DA, through the AWO, to enter into cooperative projects with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) and other related government agencies to support operational weather forecasting and observation useful in agriculture; sponsor joint workshops to train agriculturalists about the optimum utilization of agricultural weather and climate data; jointly develop improved computer models and computing capacity; enhance the quality and availability of weather and climate information needed by agriculturalists; and obtain standardized weather observation data collected in near real time through regional Agricultural Weather Information Systems. According to Pagasa, an average of 20 tropical storms hit the country on a yearly basis. The most number of tropical storms occurred in 1993, which recorded 32, while the least number of tropical cyclones occurred in 1998, wherein 11 were recorded.

Historically, typhoons that hit the country in the latter part of the year are usually the strongest; three of the typhoons that have made the most damage financially in the past three years hit the country between September and December. The most damage to rice harvests occurred in October 2010, when as much as 523,013 MT of palay were lost due to the onslaught of typhoon “Juan.” Initial estimates of damage caused by Santi to rice harvests have been pegged at P3 billion. While the DA has yet to release figures on the volume of palay that has been lost as a result of the typhoon and in spite of pre-typhoon Santi recommendations from the Neda to import an additional half million metric tons to ensure rice supplies, DA Secretary Proceso Alcala has reiterated that the government has no plans of importing additional stocks of rice. Economist Roehlano Briones, a senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, however, said the government should adopt a more open policy toward rice importation. “Even without the devastation, we need a more open policy toward rice importation. The impact of typhoon Santi makes it even more necessary,” Briones said. The UP-trained economist emphasized that importing more rice would help lower domestic prices of the staple.‐of‐agricultural‐weather‐office‐to‐help‐farmers‐ prevent‐damage‐pushed                 

Lawmaker wants teachers’ salary increased by P9,000 Written by Charlie V. Manalo Monday, 21 October 2013 00:00  

A lawmaker has filed a bill granting public school teachers a salary increase of P9,000 per month in a bid to improve their plight. Cibac Rep. Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales, author of House Bill 226, said the P9,000 salary increase shall be paid in three equal tranches. Cruz-Gonzales said the teachers will get P3,000 per month on the first year, another P3,000 on the second year and P3,000 on the third year. Cruz-Gonzales said the measure also authorizes additional support for the public school teachers in the form of allowances and other remuneration funded from local school board funds. The measure shall also allow the public school teachers to receive the amount of P1,000 per year as their medical allowance. “We hope to give recompense to the daily toils of our educators, endeavoring the improvement of their social and economic status, with the end in view of attracting and retaining more people with the proper qualifications in the teaching profession,” CruzGonzales said. The lawmaker said it is unfortunate that teachers in the basic education sector still experience the hardship of squeezing all expenses to a measly monthly salary of less than P10,000. “The sad plight of the public school teachers remains to be in the murk, despite previously enacted laws such as the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers,” CruzGonzales said. Cruz-Gonzales said the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers authorizes the Department of Education to grant an annual Magna Carta bonus to public school teachers and non-teaching personnel of the DepEd. She said the maximum amount of the Magna Carta bonus shall be equivalent to the entitlement a teacher or non-teaching personnel should have received under the law but have not been realized in a given budget year. Cruz-Gonzales said the additional support and compensation provided in this measure shall cover the public school teachers, locally-funded teachers, Philippine Science High School System teaching and non-teaching personnel, and non-teaching personnel of

the DepEd, excluding those occupying positions from salary grade level 30, under the DepEd schedule of salaries and Assistant Secretary upwards. “It is the policy of the State to assign the highest budgetary priority to education to ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfilment,” Cruz-Gonzales said.‐section/lawmaker‐wants‐teachers‐salary‐increased‐by‐ p9‐000                                     

BOHOL RELIEF GOODS PINUPULITIKA! Ni Bernard Taguinod Binalaan ng palasyo ng Malacañang ang mga local politicians sa lalawigan ng Bohol na hindi mangingiming parusahan ang mga ito kapag napatunayang ginagamit ang trahedya sa kanilang political interest. Ayon kay deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, nakarating na sa kaalaman ng palasyo ang mga ulat na pinipigilan ng mga local politician ang pagre-release sa mga relief goods sa ilang lugar sa Bohol. “Meron po tayong mga natanggap na mga report na meron daw po na... Apparently... Allegedly, there are some local politicians that have been withholding relief from several areas that need relief,” pahayag ni Valte. Nanawagan na rin umano si Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Mar Roxas sa mga local politicians na huwag haluan ng pulitika ang relief operations sa lalawigan. Sa kabila ng pagkilos ni Roxas, mag-iimbestiga na rin umano ang palasyo sa nasabing ulat at kapag napatunayang totoo ang natanggap na report umano sa hindi magandang ginagawa ng mga local politicians ay hindi mangingiming parusahan ang mga ito kahit anong partido ang kanilang kinabibilangan.             

‘Di natinag sa bantang People Power (Bernard Taguinod) Hindi nagpakita ng pangamba ang palasyo ng Malacañang sa inisyatibong ginagawa ngayon ni dating Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Reynato Puno na istilong People Power sa pagbasura sa pork barrel. Ayon kay deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, walang dapat katakutan ang palasyo sa People’s Initiative (PI) ni Puno dahil ginagarantiya naman umano ng Saligang Batas ang karapatan at kalayaang ito. “Hindi tayo dapat mangamba at wala din naman tayong mga agam-agam,” pahayag ni Valte bilang reaksyon sa inisyatibo ni Puno kung saan hindi na ang mga mambabatas sa dalawang kapulungan ng Kongreso nakasalalay ang pagbasura sa pork barrel kundi ang taumbayan. Base sa sistema ng PI, mangangalap ng 3% pirma sa mga botante sa bawat distrito sa buong bansa at katumbas ng 10% sa total voters sa buong kapuluan para sa kanilang isinusulong na pagtanggal sa pork barrel ng mga mambabatas.                 

Mula elementarya hanggang kolehiyo, ituro ang ‘ethics’ sa mga bata (Boyet Jadulco) Upang hindi lumaking corrupt at maging kanser ng lipunan ang mga kabataan, iminungkahi ng isang mambabatas ang pagtuturo ng ethics sa mga estudyante mula elementarya hanggang kolehiyo. Naniniwala si Marikina Rep. Marcelino Teodoro na ang kawalan ng malakas na “moral foundation” ang siyang dahilan kung bakit namamayani ang korapsyon sa gobyerno. “It is high time to inquire into the strengths and weaknesses of the Filipino people with a view to solving social ills and strengthening the nation’s moral fiber,” paliwanag ni Teodoro sa House Bill No. 2477 na kanyang inihain. Binanggit nito ang inisyatiba ng Office of the Ombudsman at ng Department of Education (DepEd) kung saan inilabas nila ang dalawang modules na may titulong “Graft and Corruption Prevention Modules” na ituturo mula elementarya hanggang kolehiyo. Ang module na ito, ayon sa mambabatas, ay base sa konsepto at mga kahalagahang isinasaad ng Republic Act 6713 o ang Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. “The two modules are intended to awaken the student’s consciousness towards being honest and responsible citizens of their community,” giit ni Teodoro. Inihain ng mambabatas ang panukala sa gitna ng kontrobersya ng pork barrel fund scam kung saan ilang senador at kongresista ang nadadawit sa pagkulimbat ng pondo ng bayan.   

Nawasak na mga simbahan, gagastusan ng gobyerno (Dindo Matining) Bagama’t umiiral ang “separation of church and state”, tutulong pa rin umano ang pamahalaan para sa pagbuo sa mga nasirang simbahan sa nagdaang lindol sa Cebu at Bohol. Ayon kay Senate President Franklin Drilon, pwedeng gamitin ang pera ng gobyerno sa pagbuong muli ng mga nawasak na “historical and cultural sites” na deklarado ng United Nations, National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCAA) at National Historical Institute (NHI). “Pwedeng gamitin ang pera ng pamahalaan doon sa historical at cultural sites as proclaimed and declared either by United Nations, NCCA or NHI,” sabi ni Drilon kahapon. Paliwanag pa ni Drilon, ginagamit umano ang pondo ito ng gobyerno hindi dahil sa “religious purposes” kundi dahil sa cultural at historical value ng mga gumuhong 300 hanggang 400-anyos na mga simbahan. “You are spending public funds not for religious purposes but for cultural and historical purposes nito. Kung hindi ako nagkakamali, ay nasa batas ng NCCA,” anang Senate leader. Subalit hindi umano pwedeng gamitin ang pera ng pamahalaan kapag ang nasira ay mga ordinaryong chapel o kapilya lamang.         

‘PLOT’ VS PNOY HIT Published : Monday, October 21, 2013 00:00 Written by : Efren Montano MALACAÑANG yesterday denounced “unseen hands” maneuvering to divert attention from the pork barrel issue to the so-called presidential pork from the Malampaya Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte say could not categorically who the political figures or parties are behind the anti-Aquino efforts but stressed she is not bothered. “Kung tatanungin niyo po ako ‘nung tao, hindi ko naman po masasabi sa inyo. Ngunit, obvious naman din po, tingin ko it is readily apparent katulad ng sinabi ng Pangulong Aquino noon. At, katulad ng nabanggit ng Pangulo, handa naman po siya para sa mga ganitong pangyayari…. Ngunit, again, in the words of the President, we are disturbing many rice bowls,” Valte said. Valte added that the President’s tuwid na daan agenda and crackdown against corruption is affecting several “rackets” in the bureaucracy, “… marami po tayong mga raket na nagagalaw at marami po tayong mga nayayanig kaya... Nanggaling na po mismo ‘yan sa Pangulo kaya ini-expect na rin po namin ‘yung mga ganitong galaw para i-misdirect or ibaling ang atensyon ng publiko,” Valte said. Earlier, Valte said it has no problem with former Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s efforts to gather support from large organizations to push a people’s initiative to abolish the pork barrel system. Valte also said that the call of retired generals for President Aquino to give up his own discretionary funds did not sit well with the Palace. “I understand there are efforts to garner support for a people’s initiative ...

They are free to do that. They are perfectly free to pursue any measure they feel would push their advocacy forward,” Valte said. “If it’s a people’s initiative, that’s within the bounds of the law, they are free to pursue that as they wish,” she added. On the retired generals call, Valte insisted there is no such thing as presidential pork. “It’s a label that some groups out there are using to push the citizenry to go against the president,” she said, adding that the “special purpose funds” that are under the executive branch’s care “have specific purposes.” She also stressed, these undergo normal auditing processes. Under Republic Act 6735, an initiative needs the support of at least 10 percent of the total number of registered voters, and at least three percent of the registered voters in each congressional district. Public outrage has risen against the pork barrel system in the wake of reports involving some P10 billion in lawmakers’ PDAF going to ghost nongovernment organizations. Some lawmakers had been charged with plunder, along with suspected brains Janet Lim-Napoles, for the scam. Valte also noted the House of Representatives already passed its version of the budget for 2014, and had removed the allocation for the PDAF and parceled it out to different agencies. “We are in the process of abolishing PDAF for 2014,” she said. However, Valte said President Aquino had given instructions to make sure the needs of those benefiting from PDAF, including scholars, are met. Valte said that the special purpose funds are “allotted for particular things” and are “subject to the yearly annual audit of the Commission on Audit.” She said that the funds are oftentimes used for calamities which are unexpected like the havoc wrought by the 7.2 magnitude quake in Bohol and Cebu.‐plot‐vs‐pnoy‐hit 

Agri weather office pushed Published : Monday, October 21, 2013 00:00 Written by : Paul M. Gutierrez A FAST-RISING member of Congress has filed a bill mandating the establishment of an Agricultural Weather Office (AWO) to give farmers accurate and timely weather information and prevent extensive damage to the country’s agriculture sector due to extreme changes in weather condition. “Every year, agricultural crops worth millions of pesos are lost and damaged by such unforeseen weather disturbances,” stressed Agri-Agra na Reporma para sa Magsasakang Pilipinas Movement (Agri) Partyist Rep. Delphine Gan Lee. “These losses are caused by the lack and/or inadequate weather information that could have enabled our agricultural producers to take the necessary precautions against natural calamities,” the lawmaker said. The bill filed by Gan Lee “seeks the establishment of an Agricultural Weather Office (AWO) which shall be responsible for the collection and distribution of weather information that will address the needs of agricultural producers.” If approved, the AWO would be tasked “to plan and administer the National Agricultural Weather Information System (NAWIS).” The measure mandates the DA, through the AWO, to enter into cooperative projects with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and other related government agencies to (1) support operational weather forecasting and observation useful in agriculture; (2) sponsor joint workshops to train agriculturalists about the optimum utilization of agricultural weather and climate data. Jointly develop improved computer models and computing capacity; (4) enhance the quality and availability of weather and climate information needed by agriculturalists; and (5) obtain standardized weather observation data collected in near real time through the proposed creation of Regional Agricultural Weather Information Systems. According to PAGASA, an average of 20 tropical cyclones hit the country on a yearly basis.

The most number of tropical cyclones occurred in 1993, with a record 32 cyclones, while the least number of tropical cyclones occurred in 1998, when 11 were recorded. Historically, typhoons that hit the country in the latter part of the year are usually the strongest. Three of the typhoons that have made the most damage financially in the past three years hit the country between September and December. So far, the worst to be experienced by the country was in October 2010 when typhoon Juan destroyed more than 523,000 MT of harvestable palay. On the other hand, typhoon Santi, which hit Luzon two weeks ago, caused over P3 billion worth of damage to rice fields in the country’s biggest producing provinces of Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Bulacan. With the development, economist Roehlano Briones of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), has batted for a more open policy in relation to the filling of the rice supply gap through importation. “Even without the devastation, we need a more open policy toward rice importation. The impact of typhoon Santi makes it even more necessary,” Briones said. The UP-trained economist emphasized that importing more rice would help lower the domestic prices of the staple, which is already the highest in the last five years. The DA and National Food Authority (NFA) are still under fire for their decision to “monopolize” the importation of rice through the DA’s government-to-government (G2G) transactions but which were allegedly mired in corruption. The DA/NFA importation of some 205,700 MT of rice from Vietnam has been the subject of separate congressional investigations over the allegation that the transaction was overpriced by as much as P457 million.‐stories/60333‐agri‐weather‐office‐pushed     

US, China, Malaysia nagbigay ng P6.8‐M  tulong sa quake victims  Published : Monday, October 21, 2013 00:00  NAGBIGAY ng tulong na nagkakahalaga ng kabuuang P6.8 milyon ang United States, China at Malaysia sa mga biktima ng 7.2 magnitude na lindol na yumanig sa Central Visayas noong Martes. Ayon sa isang radio report, inanunsyo ng tagapagsalita ng Chinese Embassy to the Philippines na si Hua Zhang ang donasyon ng People’s Republic of China na nagkakahalaga ng $800,000 at katumbas ng mahigit sa P3.4M. Ang tulong ng China ay ipinaabot sa mga nasalanta ng lindol sa pamamagitan ng Red Cross Society of the Philippines. Nagpahayag ng pakikidalamhati ang China sa mga biktima at naapektuhan ng lindol sa Bohol at Cebu lalo na sa mga pamilyang nawalan ng bahay at sa mga kamaganak ng mga nasawi. Aabot sa mahigit 100,000 Malaysian ringgit na may katumbas na P1.4 million ang naibahaging donasyon ng Malaysia para sa mga quake victims. Ang tulong ay pinarating ng asawa ng Malaysian Prime Minister na si Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor kay Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia na si Eduardo Malaya. Nangako rin ang Malaysia na magpapadala ng medical team sa Bohol at Cebu. Hindi naman nagpahuli ang Estados Unidos na nagbigay din ng P2 milyong halaga ng relief assistance. Ito ay inihayag ni US Embassy to the Philippines Deputy Chief of Mission Brian Goldbeck. Samantala, dumating sa Bohol noong Martes ang iba’t ibang ahensiya ng United Nations (UN) para magbigay ng humanitarian assistance sa mga biktima ng lindol. Ang grupo ng UN ay pinangunahan ni UN Senior Representative to the Philippines Luiza Carvalho. Ariane Marie Leyte (OJT)‐us‐china‐malaysia‐nagbigay‐ng‐p68‐m‐ tulong‐sa‐quake‐victims 


House to okay 2014 budget Published : Monday, October 21, 2013 00:00 Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco THE House of Representatives will approve tomorrow the “pork-less” 2014 P2.268 trillion general appropriations bill (GAB) on third and final reading before Congress adjourns this week for a two-week Halloween recess. Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, made the assurance of budget passage which is one day late on their original October 21 schedule. Belmonte and Ungab said the House of Representatives is allowing the Senate to further scrutinize the budget to dispel perception that Congress is a Malacañang rubber stamp. “The proposed national budget for 2014 will be passed on third reading on Tuesday,” Belmonte stressed. Ungab said GAB will be passed on time to ensure the delivery of basic services in the country next year. “I hope we can pass the budget as scheduled,” Ungab said. Ungab stressed that the House of Representatives will likely adopt the version of House Bill (HB) No. 2630 or the national budget that it approved on second reading last month. The House version, Ungab said removed the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from the discretion of legislators and was re-channeled to certain government agencies, but retained the lump sum allocations in the executive agencies.‐house‐to‐okay‐2014‐budget 

2013 10 21 quedancor daily news monitor